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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Album art for Beach House's forthcoming release, Bloom – taken from Stereogum.

Beach House has always been a band that has lived by the beat of an organ’s drum machine; however, they’ve never been limited by it. With “Myth,” Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally make their 2010 release, Teen Dream, seem like a distant memory, proving that they, perhaps more than ever, know exactly where they’re at musically, and have perfected their sound. The song is driven, of course, by precise, mechanical ticking, and reveals the sounds familiar to Beach House fans: a swell of arpeggios from the keyboard harmonizing with Scally’s eighth note rhythms on guitar, along with Legrand’s unmistakeable, seductive voice that slithers over the droning tempo. “You can’t keep hangin’ on/to all that’s dead and gone,” Legrand claims, which is true to the band’s mentality. They never let the past determine what they produce in the present. The song features their simplistic, lo-fi approach, but with the addition of a deep, monotonous bass, along with the atmospheric, tasteful use of drums, Beach House boosts their sound as if they’ve mated dream pop with arena rock.

“Myth” may be considered only an extension of the songs featured on Teen Dream, making their new album Bloom (Due May 15th) seem as if it’s a sequel. However, Beach House continues to mature with their audience by staying true to their sound, and always finding new ways to amplify it.

Listen to “Myth” here:

Ke$ha–taken from The 305.

Mississippi is a bit like alien country, and by alien I mean I wouldn’t be surprised if I met someone there with an extra set of slimy, bulging eyes underneath their armpits. It’s a place that I’ve never understood, and when I’m there I’m astounded by the amount of cowboy boots and the bodies that fill them spitting out brownish crud from their crooked mouths.

It’s also difficult to find music in the area, but since the blues essentially came to fruition in the Mississippi Delta, it is always an overwhelming presence. However, it is a ghostly presence, and if anyone wants to experience musical purgatory, go to Mississippi.

The variety of music found in Mississippi is perhaps a step-up from what one would find in Walmart: top 40 pop and country, with a bit of rap thrown in on the side, and then some obscure local roots music that people hear in bars but never buy on disc.

Yesterday, I was in Bay St. Louis for a wedding, and the last time I was there it had been bulldozed by Hurricane Katrina and nothing existed except for a Waffle House. Since that time businesses have reopened, a quaint community hall has been built, and it has slowly returned to the relaxed beach community it once was. The town even has a popular ska band.

The coastal region of Mississippi is definitely different from the rest of the state, but when surrounded by my relatives and their friends who come from the surrounding areas, it doesn’t make any difference.

A second-rate band was hired for the wedding, and before they played stereotypical wedding music and Fats Domino covers, I stood by the stage and watched them set up. A little girl came up to me and told me she loved rock ‘n’ roll, and I instantly became curious as to what little kids in Mississippi were listening to, especially ones that claimed they loved rock.

I asked who some of her favorites were. “Kesha,” she said. I was immediately disappointed, but at the same time intrigued. She was only eight years-old, and it was startling to me that she knew who Ke$ha even was. I attempted to test her knowledge of the artist and asked her to sing one of her songs, and without hesitation she spit out the lyrics to the song “Cannibal.” It was especially hilarious to hear the girl sing the line: “But now that I’m famous/you’re up my anus.”

“Do you know what that song means?” I asked. “No,” she said. “I only know that she likes to eat people.”

During my series of questions, the little girl told me that she had learned of Ke$ha through Nickelodeon, on the show Victorious, in which the song “Blow” was performed. Now she listens to Ke$ha on youtube and knows all of her hits, but there’s one song–that she knows of–that she’s not allowed to listen to because it has a curse word in it: the song “Blah Blah Blah.”

It was a confession that left me perplexed, because basically if the songs “Cannibal” and “Blah Blah Blah” are compared, one could find that the lyrics both display promiscuous, skanky behavior, yet the meaning is more direct in one song than it is in the other. “I eat boys up, breakfast and lunch/Then when I’m thirsty, I drink their blood,” is merely a horror story version of “Don’t be a little bitch with your chit chat/Just show me where your dick’s at.”

That may be a stretch, but because a song contains curse words, does that make it worse than a song with veiled references and images that potentially mean the same thing?

Johnny Depp turning kid’s brains into mush at the 24th Annual Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. It’s sad that children choose such things–taken from Zimbio.

Nickelodeon, a network famous for snot and slime, is watched by children who are still developing cognitively, and when Ke$ha is marketed to them their brains literally turn into snot and slime. The network is an influence, and even if a cleaner song about partying, such as “Blow,” is played on a television show – while the plot of the episode is to desperately scrounge for tokens that lead to a grand prize of a private Ke$ha concert – kids are still going to be interested in seeking out that music, leading them to find out the not-so-Nickelodeon version of their new found artist.

It made me think of all the times I had felt that time had stopped or never began while I was in Mississippi, and made me wonder if the state is a small representation of how ass-backwards the entire country is.

Johnny Vidacovich–taken from Nola.com

The Maple Leaf Bar was steamy and dense, and as the blue haze of cigarette smoke lingered in the air, Johnny Vidacovich stayed cool and contained behind his drum set, which sat sideways at the foot of the stage. His bucket hat signified his unfazed tranquility, and with his sticks dangling in the air, hovering over the cymbals, he looked ready to cast off into a small pond. In a way he did, because the audience was reeled in.

As one of New Orleans’s premier drummers, he has earned a weekly gig at the Maple Leaf on Thursday nights with his group The Trio. With the group’s usual bassist, George Porter Jr., absent from the evening’s performance, Vidacovich had a special line-up in guitarist Grant Green Jr., and B3 organist Ike Stubblefield.

Green sat on a bar stool with his lefty guitar in his lap and a cigarette burning in his mouth, while Stubblefield smirked behind his organ, his eyes hidden by sunglasses and the shady rim of a fading baseball cap. The group grooved together as Johnny V. kept a swift beat, with Green adding sparse comping underneath Stubblefield’s organ solo. It was typical music for typical licks, but the interaction between the players made the music fresh and interesting. Green took control of the impromptu jam with his syncopated accompaniments, emphasizing unusual beats, which Johnny V. would pick up on and incorporate into his own playing, tastefully dribbling on a cowbell, or splashing on a cymbal. Audience members were astounded by Johnny V.’s technique, drunkenly attempting to imitate the way he kept time on the cymbals and emphasized the beat on the snare.

Jimmy V. and his Bucket Hat–taken from tipitinas.com

When there’s a groove going down in New Orleans, dancing is a primal instinct, and the crowd grew lively and boisterous once Green slid in with the memorable guitar lick from Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning.” Johnny V. followed with a standard drum beat, as Stubblefield worked the bass pedals of his organ while lighting a cigarette. The eerie sound of the B3 then signaled for Green to begin singing in his low, raspy voice. They would play other crowd pleasers such as “Just My Imagination” and “Green Onions,” then later jam with a special guest, trombonist Ed Numeister.

But the culmination of the night was when Johnny V. played his catchy chant, “I Don’t Know.” It was one of the only songs that featured the drummer’s vocals, and he sang some deep lyrics to a funky beat. “Is it ice/Or is it water?” he belted out, followed by similar questions and observations. He summed up his thoughts by exclaiming, “Too many questions/but too many answers to be found,” then, following the swell of the cymbals, went back into the chorus.

The song ended and Johnny V. grabbed the microphone, pulling it so close that it buzzed as he spoke. “You are beautiful,” he said to the audience. “When you came, it sounded much better. Without you, this would be impossible.”

For some groups, having a weekly gig could become repetitive, but Johnny V. is not that way. He thrives on interaction, and with different players and different audiences each week he doesn’t get stale. Of all the things he may not know, what he does know is what to play and when to play it.

While walking through Loyola University’s Danna Center this afternoon, I stumbled upon this:

This was an interesting question, and one that produced a multitude of humorous answers–answers such as 2Pac, Kanye West, Whatever he wants to…he’s Jesus, and elevator music. I spoke with the man behind the board, Josh Harvey, who is a friend and campus director of Chi Alpha (a christian fellowship group) at Loyola. We talked about how gospel and artists like Kirk Franklin fit into this equation. He brought up a point that Jesus probably wouldn’t listen to gospel or contemporary christian music, asking “would you want to listen to music written about yourself?”

This made me curious.

I’d like to know what you guys think about that statement, and even if you’re not Christian, what do you think Jesus would be listening to if he were hanging out on Earth right now?

Also, I challenge you to identify which answer is mine.

Black Mountain – taken from ventvox.com

With “Mary Lou,” canadian rock group Black Mountain takes its pseudo-psychedelic sound – which in the past has had the tendency to sound like a plethora of fossilized classic rock bands – to the next level. The song comes from the band’s forthcoming release (available April 3rd), which is a soundtrack composed of old and new songs for the so-called “apocalyptic” surf film Year Zero. Since the song was written specifically for a film, there is a noticeable shift in the group’s approach to songwriting. The vintage sound of the chunky opening bass riff, which is later mimicked by an even chunkier, distorted guitar is typical Black Mountain; but the band injects their fossil rock sound with a shot of adrenaline by working in a quicker tempo than usual, while simplifying the song structure to a repetitive, catchy drone that does not put any emphasis on lyrics. However, lyrics are of no importance to this song – this is cruising music. The simple phrase “Mary Lou, Mary Lou/Whatchu gonna do?” is adequate because the emphasis relies solely on the charging electric vibe of the music, which makes it appealing to a crowd of “renegade surfers” and anyone who wants to rock hard. The song makes the listener feel as if he or she is catching a wave, taking it for a speedy ride, crashing down and drowning under water, and then slowly washing up to shore.

Listen to “Mary Lou” here: