February Recap – The Blah and the Beautiful
You may have noticed that this blog has been dormant since Brian Viglione and Vikka Yermolevya kicked its ass with awesomeness at the end of January. For almost a month now, I’ve been wondering what could possibly top those interviews or at least come close to their level of cool. The bar for this blog seems to have been raised tenfold.
But I have finally arrived at a satisfactory answer: at present, nothing. Nothing comes close to the creativity of conception and excellence of execution of Viggie & Vikka’s concert in Iceland. And fortunately, that’s not my fault. It’s just the state of the music culture at the moment.
With this realization that I’m not to blame for February’s having been a blah month, happening-wise, I feel relieved of the responsibility to write something that equals or surpasses the last three posts. On that note, here is my February recap of what’s been in my ears lately.
Was anyone not a teeny bit excited to hear this song? Was anyone not a teeny bit disappointed by it? The verse is almost note-for-note “Waterfalls”, by TLC, and the chorus can literally be replaced by that of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” because the key and the chord changes are the same. As the Good Book says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Lady GaGa has proven the point.
Catchy tune, lame video. Product placement much? Black Star perfume. Abbey Dawn clothes. Avril’s mom even makes a cameo appearance. Is the princess of pop/punk running out of sassy ideas? (No complaints about the lingerie, however.)
The Wisconsin metal band’s debut, The Onslaught, was the closest thing to a perfect thrash album that the 2000s have produced so far. For Lazarus A.D.’s sophomore effort, the band adopts a slightly more mainstream sound — not quite as furiously fast and featuring (gasp) singing (!). The band admits to having consciously gone in a new direction for this record, which is far from a dismal failure. It’s decent. Solid, even. But it doesn’t capture the same raw purity of its predecessor.
Someone give this girl a Grammy. After hearing her soulful Beatles covers, I knew she could sing. Like, really sing, with a rare combination of deep sincerity and impeccable vocal control. Quite an instrument she has. But when I saw her perform at Webster Hall with her band Firehorse…frankly, she blew my mind. The whole band is outstanding. It’s electro-pop meets rock ‘n’ roll. Fresh and different. And Siegel is one hell of a frontwoman. Like a much, much sexier Barbra Streisand (Siegel’s voice packs that much power and expression) — with a guitar. Go see her. And support the music.
The Beatles – 2009 Remasters
It’s happened. I like the Beatles. I even went so far as to “Like” their Facebook page. But this fact has nothing to do with iTunes and its recently released Beatles collection. It has everything to do with my very latent discovery of the 2009 remastered versions of the Beatles albums, which of course I did not download from iTunes.
Not long ago, I was dutifully listening to Abbey Road for the first time, and I was flabbergasted by how great it sounded. Not only were the songs good (this I already knew, even as a Beatles non-fan), but the sound quality was good, too! A Beatles fanatic friend (and superstar guitarist) Juliana Brown brought to my attention that I was probably listening to a remastered version of the album. Sure enough, she was right. (She usually is, when it comes to Beatles things.)
So, this month, I gave the Beatles a true chance at redemption by downloading the ’09 release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band — which had been the first and last Beatles CD I had ever owned, circa 1997. I sold that album, which I had found totally obnoxious and unlistenable, back to the music store within weeks of having received it for Christmas. Until about two days ago, I had remained stubbornly, ignorantly certain that something was wrong with the rest of the world that thought Sgt. Pepper was great. Everyone who believed that had to have been on acid. Or just really gullible. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Emperor’s New Clothes was more like it. The people on the album cover should have been naked. I thought.
I’m sure you can guess where this is going. The difference between the ’97 POS CD Sgt. Pepper and the ’09 remastered Sgt. Pepper is absurd. So drastic that it’s not even worth describing. I no longer hate the album. Matter of fact, I like it.
One of the only beefs I’ll ever have with Michael Jackson (R.I.P.), since I really can’t comment on his private life, is that it took so fucking long to get the Beatles catalog out of his half-gloved hands so that it could be converted into a digital format that does it justice.
I should have just listened to my parents’ LPs.