No time for love, Docta Jones.
Here, chew on some bands with Band in their names:
THE BACKBEAT BAND:
"Long Tall Sally"
I could have sworn I'd written about the movie Backbeat before now, but I guess I was wrong. Backbeat tells the story of the pre-world famous Beatles as they were still in their infancy, playing as a pill-popping bar band in Germany's Cavern Club. More specifically, the movie's focus is on the somewhat tragic story of Stuart Sutcliffe, one of the several "fifth Beatles" debated about by fans across the world (other "fifths" include producer George Martin, keyboardist Billy Preston and drummer Pete Best). While the movie is pretty damn good, it's elevated by the soundtrack of 50s covers (the movie takes place before Lennon/McCartney would become a songwriting powerhouse) performed by The Backbeat Band, comprised of vocalists Greg Dulli (AFGHAN WHIGS) and Dave Pirner (SOUL ASYLUM), drummer Dave Grohl (NIRVANA, FOO FIGHTERS), guitarist Thurston Moore (SONIC YOUTH), bassist Mike Mills (R.E.M.), and guitarist Don Fleming (VELVET MONKEYS, GUMBALL).
THE BETA BAND:
"It's Not Too Beautiful"
The documentary 7 Days in September is easily one of the best films I've ever seen, and the film's use of The Beta Band's hypnotic, psychedelic "It's Not Too Beautiful" is just one of the many reasons for my high opinion of the movie. I'm not even going to describe the movie; if you haven't seen it, you're really doing yourself a disservice. If you've never heard The Beta Band, you aren't doing yourself any favors there, either. I promise, I was onto them before that famous scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack drops one of their songs into the store stereo to sell a few copies of the album. While the scene itself is kind of geeky, akin to the embarassing "The Shins will change your life" scene in Garden State, it's still a pretty truthful one to anyone who has ever worked in a decent record store. I once had a similar moment at a store I worked at in Omaha, selling two copies of an I AM KLOOT album within a period of 3 minutes based on a single song I was playing. It was pretty gratifying, and a nice "What's up now, bitch?" to the guy I was working with, who doubted that the tactic would work.
A BAND OF BEES:
"Left Foot Stepdown"
I already wrote, a few years back, about my absolute love of A Band of Bees' (in the UK, they are known simply as The Bees) sophomore album Free the Bees, where tonight's "The Start" first appeared. The band's most recent album, Octopus was released months ago, but was virtually impossible to find for a long time, even on iTunes. It's finally started to rear its awesome head, and is definitely worth checking out, based on tonight's groovy "Left Foot Stepdown."
Of course, there can be really only one band. . .
"It Makes No Difference" (live)
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (live)
I will never forget, as long as I live, a night spent bowling at The Lucky Strike in Chicago years ago with a group of great friends. I dropped about $5 in the jukebox and went to town, playing everything from Built to Spill to Otis Redding. At one point, my choice of The Band's "It Makes No Difference" from the soundtrack to The Last Waltz came on the sound system, and my friend Lesley scoffed at the song, asking incredulously "Did you pick this?" If Lesley had been a man, I probably would have punched her in her fucking face for this indiscretion. The hard part would not have been dealing with the aftermath of our broken friendship; it would have been the difficulty in deciding exactly which reason for punching her in the mouth would have been best. Would it have been in defending the honor of deceased bassist Rick Danko? Would it have been because this song is one of the highlights of that fantastic concert movie, and one of the scenes that brought me near tears when viewing it in a Philadelphia theater the year before? Would it have been because she was dissing THE fucking BAND, the band that backed Bob Dylan through some of the most incredible and creative parts of his career? All I know, it was definitely punch-in-the-mouth territory. If she'd made fun of drummer Levon Helm (who sings the shit out of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" from the same soundtrack), murder would have been da case that they gave me.
Why mess with a good thing, right?
Actually, things are really busy right now and I decided to take a request from one of the readers and post the out-of-print self-titled Band of Horses EP tonight. You know, in lieu of actually putting forth some effort to write about another band.
I guess I can use this space to correct my previous post. My original leaked copy of Cease to Begin had several jumbled song titles. I remedied the situation by buying the CD the day it was released. The song whose lyrics I quoted was actually entitled "Detlef Schrempf," taking its name from a German immigrant who had incredible success playing for the NBA, and more specifically for the Seattle SuperSonics.
What that song has to do with Schrempf, I have no idea. Perhaps that person leaving town in the song ("If you're gonna go, well be careful. . .") is Schrempf leaving Germany? Retiring from the team? Doesn't matter. . . I like my interpretation just fine.
Anyway, tonight I'm sending out a couple of .Zip files, so make way for a little bandwidth. First up is that aforementioned out-of-print EP:
"BAND OF HORSES" EP
1. Savannah (Part One) - demo
2. The Snow Fall - demo (previously posted here)
3. For Wicked Gil - demo
4. The Great Salt Lake - live (previously posted here>
5. Billion Day Funeral - live
6. (Biding Time Is) A Boat Row"
Next up is a recent radio broadcast from the world famous KCRW studios, aired on Thursday, September 6th, 2007. After hearing his self-effacing banter and seemingly genuine and humble nature, I think I'd really enjoy interviewing singer Ben Bridwell. Anyone who loves Neil Young and Built to Spill as much as I do is a friend in my book.
"BAND OF HORSES - Live at KCRW"
1. Is There A Ghost
2. Islands On The Coast
3. The General Specific
5. Our Swords
6. Ode To The LRC
7. The Funeral
8. Wicked Gil
9. Marry Song
Some YouTube fun:
Here's an awesome performance, just a few days old, of the band doing "Is There a Ghost" on Late Night With David Letterman. Stay tuned to the end and clock how damn excited Bridwell is to shake Dave's hand:
Here's the video for "The Great Salt Lake":
A video for "Is There a Ghost":
A proposed but rejected video for "The Funeral," created by Super!Alright!:
And, what the hell, here's a cutie in her pajamas doing a piano cover of "The First Song":
For more Horses/YouTube hotnezz, click HERE.
There are a number of decent releases (the online release of the new Radiohead, for one!) slated to come out tomorrow, October 9th, but the one I'm most excited about is the sophomore release from Seattle's BAND OF HORSES, entitled Cease to Begin.
That band's debut, Everything All of the Time, was an instant classic, lauded by a number of critics. This new record has been the source of some debate, especially online. Some consider it a real dropping off from the first record, while folks like me think it might just be even better than Horses' debut. One of the more hilarious complaints is that this album is too short. This complaint seems a little silly, considering this record is about 56 seconds shorter.
One thing is for sure: produced by Phil Ek, Cease to Begin might be the best Built to Spill album the band has failed to release in the last 6 (or more) years. Where Doug Martsch and company have drifted into caring a little too much about noodling guitars, Band of Horses have streamlined their songwriting on this record, delivering a number of poppier songs that clock in at around the 3-minute mark.
I have to be honest: I've had the album, which leaked on the internet, for months now. I can't stop listening to it, to the point that it's getting ridiculous. My favorite song on the record, and possibly my favorite song of 2007, is the charging "Islands on the Coast." I'm not exaggerating here: I've listened to nothing but this song for a few days on end. I've been going for long walks a few times a week, trying to get back in shape, and on several of those walks, I put that song on Repeat for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
Another song on the record, which I believe is titled "The General Specific" but won't really know until tomorrow (the leaked version of the album had one or two song title swaps), has had a pretty profound effect on me in recent weeks. See, as I'm going to school for a Nursing degree, I am also working in the pediatric intensive care unit at a local hospital. It's a pretty large, pretty reputable transplant hospital, so a lot of the kids on our floor are recent transplants, making them constantly returning visitors.
Recently, one of the kids almost everyone on the floor had taken a shining to died one morning, at the beginning of my shift. Part of my job as a tech when something like this happens is to do hand molds for the family. Hand molds are little cement "statues" we make using that pink dental mold stuff. To make them, you dip the (deceased) child's hands into this solution as it hardens, and then add the "cement" mix later.
On this particular occasion, the family stayed in the room while I did the molds, making an already emotional part of my job almost unbearable. As I made the molds, I stared off at a point in the ceiling, which is painted to look like a cloudy sky, and thought of the words to "The General Specific," a ballad that seems to be about someone leaving the town where they grew up to become anonymous and new somewhere else. I had been listening to the song on my way to work that morning, but the lyrics really struck me in a new way as I hid my crying from the family of this dead child:
(Again, this is my interpretation. . . he could very well be singing something entirely different. . . under a completely different title. . . )
Take a little walk when the worst is too cold
When I saw you looking like I never thought.
You say you're at a loss, or forgot,
that words can do more than harm.
The town is gonna talk. Well, these people do not
see things through to the very minimal.
What's it gonna cost to be gone
If we see you like I hoped we never would?
Eyes can't look at you any other way.
Any other way, any other way.
Eyes can't look at you any other way.
Any other way, any other way.
So take it as a salve, or a lesson to learn
and sometime soon, be better than you were.
You say you're gonna go. . .
well be careful. . .
and watch how you treat every living soul.
My eyes can't look at you any other way,
any other way, any other way.
Those last few lines kept going through my head. . . especially "sometime soon, be better than you were" and "be careful, and watch how you treat every living soul. . ." until I had to leave the room and weep in the bathroom. It's pretty amazing how something can change the context of a song. For all I know, this could be some tune about lead singer Ben Bridwell's crazy ex-girlfriend. For me, it will be linked to that moment in my life forever.
Regardless of your interpretation, the song itself is probably worth the price of the whole album (which, I believe, is going for $7.99 at Best Buy tomorrow). I'm not including it tonight to hopefully encourage people to check it out for themselves. Luckily, the rest of the record is worth paying for, as well.
From Cease to Begin:
"Is There a Ghost"
"Islands on the Coast"
From Everything All the Time:
"The Great Salt Lake"
"The First Song"
From the Band of Horses tour EP:
"The Great Salt Lake (live)"
"The Snow Fall" (original demo for "The First Song")
From the "The Funeral" 7":
"The End's Not Near"
Original version of "End's Not Near" by THE NEW YEAR:
"End's Not Near"