Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Category: 30Hz Music (Page 6 of 22)

30Hz Top 100 Songs of 2014

Lately, I have been weighing the cost/benefit of cloning. The Rumble suffered this year due to a certain Bond-ian syndrome that’s taken hold of my extra time and writing life, those precious, wee hours when I’m not arguing with a 2 year old (about everything) or discussing My Little Pony minutiae with the 5 year old. The good news here is that I’m nearly done with the first draft of my James Bond manuscript of more than 80,000 words. Huzzah! Bad news. Now I need to send some feelers out for publication and start work on revisions so the Rumble will likely still suffer from content jealousy. Somewhere along the way, I listened to a metric crap tonne of music in 2014. And I have to admit that the year merely whelmed. I found the usual handful of albums to adore (nothing swept me up like CHVRCHES’ The Bones of What You Believe), but few standout tracks to call “legit jams.” The last two years have spoiled us all for new music. 2014 brought us all back down to earth. Unless you’re Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift or Lorde, all of whom were last spotted soaring somewhere near Uranus. Maybe Neptune. Even more damning of 2014 is that I found reason to put two of those artists on my list. (Ugh.)

My playlist containing every track in iTunes from 2014 has 7 days worth of music in it. And that doesn’t even count all the stuff I check out on Spotify and dismiss. But even with all that listening, it’s blind, dumb, stupid luck when a certain song catches my fancy. Consider how much music is released each and every week. The music from major labels, indie labels and everything in between. Some songs are unavoidable. Some songs I hear once, a chance meeting during My Old Kentucky Blog’s noontime hour on XMU. Great songs get left off my list every year just because I first heard them in the wrong frame of mind. There are dozens, nay hundreds, of equally worthy songs that just didn’t catch my fancy when the fancy was loose. I always make an effort to value visceral enjoyment more highly than intellectual appreciation when selecting and ranking these tracks. In a couple of instances over the years I’ve come to regret this plan of attack. Honesty will condemn me before all 100 101 102 of my favorite tracks from 2014 have been weighed and measured. The 30Hz Top 100 Songs of 2014:

Best Songs of 2014

Rdio Playlistified:

Spotify Playlistified:

101a. “Boom Clap” – Charlie XCX

For whatever reason I’ve decided that Charlie XCX has more individual talent than all of the other naked and bouncy pop stars I dismiss without a second thought. I blame her first record, which was actually quite good. Though I like the new one too. (Shit. Am I a Charlie XCX “fan”?) Oh, and this song’s featured in a movie about cancer-ridden teens, so it’s, like, deep, right?

Read More

30Hz Recommended: Got a Girl

Got a Girl is hip-hop producer Dan the Automator and actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Does this reek of She & Him? Yes. Yes it does. Are you tired of Zooey Deschanel? Probably. This is not She & Him. Now let me give you five six seven reasons you need to pay attention to Got a Girl.

Got a Girl 30Hz Recommended

1. Dan the Automator produced one of the greatest hip-hop records in history: Dr. Octogon’s Octogonecologyst.

 

 

2. The collaboration between Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Dan the Automator came after their meeting on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Dan contributed to the soundtrack and, Mary Elizabeth, of course, starred as Ramona Flowers. If there’s one thing we should all know by know, it’s that only brilliant things come from Scott Pilgrim. Here’s Romona and Roxy’s battle, just because:

 

3. Got a Girl has also created these deliciously retro/mod performance art videos as teasers for the upcoming record. Do I completely understand how this is going to sell more records? No. But maybe that’s not the point. All I know is that I felt compelled to watch all of them. MEW is porcelain perfection in high contrast black & white, and Dan the Automator as Mad Men-era sophisticate sipping wine, drinking scotch and schilling fake cologne strikes a chord untapped by anyone other than the Most Interesting Man in the World. Visit the Got a Girl website to view all of the videos. Here’s one I find especially topical. MEW and vinyl:

 

4. Mary Elizabeth Winstead first showcased her pipes singing a cappella in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. Quentin Tarantino has excellent taste in music. By the reflexive property of approval, Quentin Tarantino approves of MEW.

 

5. The Got a Girl Instagram. This might overlap with #3, but I’m okay with that. It’ll give me a reason to check my Instragram feed again.

 

Got a Girl Instagram

6. MEW said their intentions were to marry “French 60’s pop, Jane Birkin… and Dan’s sensibility, which is his beats and a little bit of that low-key hip-hop vibe.” If all you know about French pop music from the 1960’s is Gillian Hill’s “Zou bisou bisou,” let’s add another name to that list: Françoise Hardy, perhaps the most enduring of all the artists to come out of yé-yé (the French “bubblegum” pop) artists.

 

 

7. Got a Girl is really, quite f’ing good.

 

Quick link to Amazon for ordering artists featured in this post:

Tegan & Sara @ Stage AE – June 19th, 2014

This was me when I found out rain had forced the Tegan & Sara show inside at Stage AE — without the Debbie Reynolds smooching, of course:

 

 

Now for my airing of thoughts, grievances and non-sequiturs to ponder.

[the rumble]

Is it just me, or do lesbians only go see acts featuring openly gay musicians? I’ve never seen such a concentrated population in Pittsburgh before. Though I never went to Lilith Fair — my girlfriend at the time had her foot run over by a Mercedes on the way to the show.

Shows are just better indoors. I’m sorry if that ruins your buzz, man.

Buff dudes with no necks that have jockeyed for position at the front and center of the stage… and then proceed to sing every lyric to every song written by a female pop duo are f’ing awesome. Seriously. I love you guys.

I hate it when I don’t have any major complaints about a show. I feel like I’m not doing my job and resident mehssimist of this here site.

#TeamTegan

[/the rumble]

 

Opening acts aren’t always worth the effort of getting to a show on time. I have two kids I need to throw in bed — I can’t always ditch them with the wife for the witching hour. If I do just hand them over upon the wife walking in the door, you know I’ve been given a stern beatdown by the daughters. When parents talk about their need to drink, I’m willing to bet their born-again alcoholism results, almost entirely, from their children’s behavior between 5pm and 8pm. Thursday, I had one of those days. So I finished dinner, got the nod of approval from the wife and bailed. My reward: hearing My Midnight Heart. I don’t know if it’s wholly accurate but here was my initial response upon hearing the band:

 

I was so smitten with the group I headed over the swag table to pick up an EP. Only, it wasn’t exactly an EP, per say. It was a gold-painted flash drive. I didn’t know how to process that in my matchbook of opinions of methods of media distribution so I walked back to the floor to get a better spot for Tegan & Sara. Before T&S’s encore I wandered back over and had smashing conversation with My Midnight Heart lead singer Angelica Allen about the thumb drive as a method for distributing music (“We can include videos too. And when you get all the stuff off, you can reuse it!”), the venue (“There’s no bad place to watch a show in here.”) and the extremely receptive crowd (“There was a ton of energy, I thought, for an opening act.”). I guarantee you’ll hear more from this band. Allen has a huge stage presence — and a huge voice.

 Here’s “Chest of Hearts” from MY MIDNIGHT HEART:

 

But back to the main attraction: Tegan & Sara.

tegan&sara

 

In case you can’t tell the identical twins apart by their disparate haircuts, that’s Tegan on the left. Sara on the right. I added a helpful guide.

Now that I’m thinking about the mental notes I made during the show, it’s possible today’s Rumble is still forthcoming.

What the hell is wrong with the music industry that Tegan & Sara aren’t one of the biggest acts on the planet? Is it the industry that promotes musicians? Or is it that people who listen to music are deaf? I’m going with a mixture of both. Take a look at today’s Billboard Hot 100 chart. Oh, don’t bother. I’ll do it for you. There are maybe four or five tracks on the entirety of the Top 100 that have hooks as good as anything on Tegan & Sara’s last record. Am I being too aggressive here? I don’t think so. Pick any track off that record — and it’ll be a better pop song than just about anything on the Billboard charts. Let’s give it a try. And we’ll start with the big guns. The #1 song on the Billboard 100 vs. the #1 single on Tegan & Sara’s Heartthrob.

THROWDOWN!

Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” vs. Tegan & Sara’s “Closer”

 

Maybe it’s not a fair comparison because I honestly don’t understand the appeal of the Iggy Azalea track. Sounds like most other slices of summer regurgitation, a bulimic rap backed with lazy synth leading to a rubbish hook. Maybe my point’s overall poorly executed, but you get the idea. The idea is that Tegan & Sara have been banished to Indierockberia when they’re writing pure pop-music. Inherently palatable and easily accessible by all. Is there a ceiling to how good pop music can be? And once you cross that threshhold you become hipster scum? What am I missing here? Is it that they’re Canadian? Or that they play for the other team? That they don’t ride magical flying dildos onto stage?

Probably.

But now about the show.

I’d heard much about their tours. I don’t know how I was never able to catch one of their shows before. I bypassed their trip to Pittsburgh last year because A) they were opening for fun. and B) it was outside. If I’m really into an act, I have no trouble paying a premium to watch them open for someone else. BUT. You compound the lukewarm reception of an opening act with the distracted attentions of an outdoor crowd AND a zeitgeisty headliner that makes me question the extent of humanity’s tone deafness, that’s a surefire recipe for 30Hz rage. Thankfully, T&S deemed Pittsburgh worthy of a return headlining trip. And thank goodness for that.

Some acts force banter. I’ve discussed the importance of banter here and there around the site for some time, but it probably requires some retread here. If you can’t banter, don’t. If you don’t like improvisational anecdotes, don’t improvise. I value an act that gets up there, plays their songs and goes home. It is, after all, all about the music. That said, an act that engages the crowd with earnest appreciation and enthusiasm amplifies the enjoyment of a show. The duo played a handful of songs before breaking for their first bout of banter. Sara does most of the talking, but both radiate off-the-cuff eloquence. During one song (I can’t remember which — shame on me) Sara lost her train of song and just kept strumming her guitar while she tried to figure out where she’d gone wrong. Tegan took it upon herself to shake her tambourine with greater exuberance, a mid-track tambourine jam and a bit of showmanship that allowed her sister to collect herself.

After the song, Sara shook off the misstep by relating songwriting to parenthood. She said she imagined that messing up a favorite song during a live set like was a lot like parenting. (And I’m paraphrasing here… ) You have two children. One destined to be a brilliant scholar. You know they’ll go far and do great things. The other, well, you just hope they eventually move out of the house. And then you just end up dropping the brilliant one on its head and you can’t help but think, as that future Nobel Prize winner tumbled to the ground… why couldn’t I have dropped the other one?

Sara boasts a bit of an edge, like a permanently dissatisfied singer-songwriter stuck on a lyric while Tegan comes off as the free spirit that would make everyone in the audience green tea if she had the opportunity. If I were casting their bio pic I’d go for Ellen Page and Anna Kendrick. But they’d have to be twins, so that complicates everything.

Oh bother.

Was there something more to be said? Plenty. But I’m not a fan of the weather in Indieblogberia. I’ll just half-ass this last bit to make sure I don’t bust through that glass ceiling of quality blog writing.

In closing, here’s a tremendous, acoustic version of “I Was a Fool” from Heartthrob.

…and here’s another clip from the same event that showcases Sara’s humor and eloquence on the mic.

 

The Underheralded 80’s: Rain Dogs by Tom Waits

And now a new series on The Rumble. Since this blog usually returns to the warm fuzzies of nostalgia for fodder, it seemed fitting to dive right in with the underrated records from my favorite musical decade. I solicited submissions from friends and Internet acquaintances and hope this becomes an ongoing series celebrating the best the 1980’s had to offer.

tom-waits-rain-dogs

Rain Dogs by Tom Waits

by Timm Booker

This beauty is what happens when Lower Manhattan meets the Mississippi Delta and the devil makes hay. The 19 tracks range from Polka to Bossa-Nova to Rockabilly and a scant single minute to a solid 4:37 on “Gun Street Girl.” The opening pays off in rum as we get our sea legs with “Singapore.” Ahoy! The dark, coldness of “Clap Hands” then rolls out of the speakers like a surrealistic fog. When it lifts the menagerie of images Tom, the record delivers one of the uncut diamonds of the mid-80’s. Synth-Pop be damned. Keith Richards’ sweet guitar permeates the album throughout. Details were not even missed on the cover which is an homage to Elvis and the Clash, two artists that surely took up bar stools in the saloon of Tom Waits’ palatial musical mind.  

Arctic Monkeys @ Stage AE – June 17th, 2014

Perhaps you read my tirade about outdoor live music in the post I wrote about the Mumford & Sons show last year. If you need a refresher, here ya go.

Now to test out a new section of my live music commentaries. I’ll call it The Rumble. It’s really just an everyday Festivus-style airing of grievances.

 

[the rumble]

 

Outdoor shows and the people that attend them. Next on Springer.

Jack White has a point about those goddamn digital devices. Put them the hell down. Let’s start with detachment of 30 seconds. We’ll work up to a minute. Maybe by the end of the summer, you can go 20 without holding it up in my face.

To the very very very short woman who stood on her tiptoes in front of me to film the show, I really do hope you enjoy the back of the tall dude’s head soundtracked by the blaring redline static of music recorded on iPhone speakers.

Did I looked like I want to be sprayed with a hose like a zoo elephant? It was only 80 degrees. Humid, yes, but still 80 degrees.

[/rumble]

 

Arctic Monkeys @ Stage AE

Let’s play count the glowing screens.

These are not people taking quick pictures. These are people recording on their phones. I took my obligatory random shot of shit on stage and put my phone away. That’s how I roll. You see how it’s blurry? It’s because I held my phone up for a second, snapped three pictures and hoped one looked less blurry than the others. Occasionally, I’ll take a second shot later if I want to remember a moment for a writeup later. I say this because, yes, I’m trying to sound holier than all the rest of these morons who are watching a show through an itty bitty phone screen rather than just LOOKING AT THE SHOW THAT IS RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF THEM.

Why buy a ticket? Just watch all the YouTube videos tomorrow.

The wife and I rarely attend concerts together. If we do it’s because we both really wanted to see a killer show. The last real rock show we would have seen was Franz Ferdinand… and we anticipated something similar from the Arctic Monkeys.

We weren’t wrong. Unfortunately we can’t live in a vacuum and select the people who attend a concert around us. We knew we were in trouble when our newly high-school graduated babysitter commented upon hearing we were attending the AM show, “Oh, like half my school is going to that.”

I’m not teenager phobic. I’m not standing out on my lawn waving a broom at any of the kids that walk by my property. Teenagers are dumb. I accept this about them. I remember being a dumb teenager. In theory, we’re good with this understanding that they’re dumb and I’m, like, kinda old (remember when 35 was f’ing ancient?).

I’m not good with idiots of any age, however, that somehow diminish my enjoyment of a good show. For example, yes, a 17yo girl of ample proportions wearing only a sports bra and cutoff shorts is not a welcome sight, but I file these images away in my geezer box, to discuss in great detail at a later time. (“How do we keep this from happening to our daughters?”) Oh, you plucked your eyebrows into independently functioning yin and yang shapes? Interesting. You had an older boy buy you beers for the first time and then tried to impress him with your alcohol tolerance? Cute. Now go puke with your girlfriends, preferably somewhere far away. But if you’re holding your phone up right in front of my face for entire songs on end, you are impacting my experience. Jack White was fucking right to have one of his trademarked hissy fits about this very topic. I think I’m having one now. What is it about outdoor crowds that turn everyone into a digital slave?

After “Crying Lightning” I turned to my wife and said, “Whenever you’re good, I can leave.” Before she could answer “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” came on. We listened intently, peering between cell phones, then she elbowed me. “Now I’m done.”

Our early exit was a disappointment. Frontman Alex Turner is something to behold, full of swagger and Elvis hips with a swath of Joe Strummer. As soon as he walked on stage — all eyes fixed on Alex Turner. He’s a refreshing throwback to the days when lead singers could be superstars. In a different world, one with less divided attentions, this could be our Mick Jagger.

But as a band they’re just not Franz Ferdinand.

In my mind the two bands are inextricably linked by space and time and shared ancestors. Arctic Monkeys’ live show compounded this connection with one major difference. Franz blew me away last year in Philadelphia. Old songs sounded fresh, and their performance allowed varied layers of their musicality to shine. By any measure, Arctic Monkeys are currently the bigger band. Broader appeal, more recent releases, greater production value and swagger. And, by and large, a younger crowd by at least a decade. But they lacked that *wow* factor. Despite Turner’s best efforts, the music somehow didn’t quite carry the venue. I’ll chalk it up to the Monkeys shallow (but still very visceral) musicality. Fun and frivolous, but transient.

After the show, the wife and I elected not to go home to relieve the babysitter just yet. We’d been gone for less than 90 minutes. So we partook in a longstanding concert tradition. The late night (in this instance an early bird late night) stop at Eat’n Park (or Denny’s per my own high school tradition). She ordered a grilled cheese and potato pancakes. I had coffee. We opened that aforementioned geezer complaint box and detailed the inexplicable sights we’d witnessed among the crowd, briefly touching upon the fact that it would have been nice to have enjoyed more of the Arctic Monkeys show.

Some nights pure enjoyment just isn’t in the cards, and on those nights, perhaps, it’s just better to cut your losses and enjoy the rest of the evening with good company, once again without the view of everyone else’s portable electronic devices blocking your view.

Anyway, here’s a sample of the live set from Austin City Limits to send you on your way, featuring my personal favorite Arctic Monkeys song.

Page 6 of 22

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Pin It on Pinterest