Sunday, July 28, 2013

Other People Talking About Music

Sid & Susie's List of Music You Should Hear
(From the website)

Sid (Matthew Sweet, after his character's name in the Austin Powers band Ming Tea) and Susie (Susanna Hoffs, who joined him and Mike Myers in belting out "BBC" on the soundtrack) are in as fine voice as ever on 'Under the Covers, Vol. 1', a 15-song collection of tunes first made famous by the likes of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, and the Who. And man, were they born to sing this stuff. Both the Bangles and Sweet discographies are derivative--in the best possible sense--of late-'60s pop-rock, and who didn't love the Merry-Go-Round, Grass Roots, Simon & Garfunkel, and Big Star covers Hoffs and company scattered among their originals?
Recorded at Sweet's home studio in the Hollywood Hills, the album opens strong with "I See the Rain," a Marmalade song from 1967 that Jimi Hendrix called the year's best British single but was a hit only in the Netherlands. The two proceed to nail the Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing," one of the high points on Revolver, and score similarly with Fairport Convention's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" (Hoffs in full ballad mode), the Stone Poneys' "Different Drum," the Who's "The Kids Are Alright," Love's "Alone Again Or," and a pair of Neil Young numbers, "Cinnamon Girl" and "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere."  Using their pet names for each other, Sid & Susie, they've shared their thoughts on the songs and artists they've chosen to cover.

"I See the Rain" ~ 'Ultimate Collection', Marmalade

We read somewhere that this was rumored to be Jimi Hendrix's favorite single from 1967's "Summer of Love" (or could it have been the other way around?). Don't think too hard on that one. Either way, "I See the Rain" is super groovy and muy obscure. OK, Apple (Computers) did use the first verse in an ad once, but that's only because they're cool!

"And Your Bird Can Sing" ~ 'Revolver [UK]', the Beatles

"And Your Bird Can Sing" has always been one of our favorite Beatles songs--the guitar parts alone get top honors! And in Susie's opinion, "bird" is one of the greatest slang terms for "girl" ever. "Too bad it never caught on in America," she says she says. "You can call me 'bird' anytime, Sid!" And I will do! This bird can sing!

"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" ~ 'Biograph', Bob Dylan

Bob. Sid wants to *be* you. Susie wants to be *with* you. Enough said!

"Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" ~ 'Unhalfbricking', Fairport Convention

Here Susie rises to the occasion, delivering a stellar version of Sandy Denny's classic Fairport Convention track... a wonderful lyric and a real favorite of Sid's.

"Cinnamon Girl" and "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" ~ 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere', Neil Young and Crazy Horse

We both love Neil to the extreme, and his two-part harmonies work great for us here. Plus, it's a chance to rock! For a moment Sid even thought about changing the word "girl" to "bird." Says Susie, "I love the idea of a cinnamon girl, spicy yet sweet (no pun intended), someone you 'could be happy with for the rest of your life,' as it says in the song. I've always aspired to be like that!"  It was hard to decide between "Cinnamon Girl" and "Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere." Down-home kick-assness, as opposed to classic rock kick-assness. Sid: "I guess we felt more kick-assness couldn't be a bad thing!" Or, as Susie puts it more bluntly, "We had to do them both!"

"Alone Again Or" ~ 'Forever Changes', Love

"I could be in love with almost everyone!" We love love, man. And we mean the group too!

"The Warmth of the Sun" 'Surfer Girl/Shut Down, Vol. 2', the Beach Boys

We wanted to do a Brian Wilson song, and this one is as haunting and lovely as they come. Of course we dig the harmonies upon harmonies here. Brian reportedly wrote this after Kennedy was shot.

"Different Drum" ~ 'The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt', Linda Ronstadt

As a young lass, Susie taught herself to sing by sweetly wailing along to this gem. No wonder Sid feels she's equalled even Ronstad's original Stone Poneys version. A personal thanks to our buddy "Nez" (can you believe we get to call Mike Nesmith that?) for some "lyrical" help on this one. Daaaahling. (Since all of the Stone Poneys' albums are out of print, this Ronstadt collection is the easiest way to get ahold of the original version.)

"The Kids Are Alright" ~ 'Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy', the Who

Neither of us had ever realized the poignant meaning of the lyrics to this song, even as we chose to cover it. Such a bittersweet message: a too-young father who feels he has to leave his fledgling family to find himself in the world. Pete, you're amazing!

"Sunday Morning" ~ 'The Velvet Underground & Nico', the Velvet Underground and Nico

Thank you, Lou! This is the ultimate reassuring song when you are depressed, anxious or maybe even hung over! OK it's definitely good for the hangover. There's still a bit of "hair of the dog" darkness in there too. Bells against feedback; dig the juxtaposition, man!

"Care of Cell #44" ~ 'Odessey and Oracle', the Zombies

Classic mid-'60s super-pop Zombies! We are both huge fans of the singer, Colin Blunstone (here Susie evokes Petula Clark). And what a fantastic lyric about Susie's lover getting out of prison!

"Monday, Monday" ~ 'If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears', the Mamas and the Papas

Who doesn't love the Mamas and the Papas? Not us! To clarify, we love them! This was the first song we recorded for 'Under the Covers'. We just adore the way it sounds... abundant harmonies, harpsichord, even tremolo guitar. What's not to like?

"She May Call You Up Tonight" ~ 'There's Gonna Be A Storm', the Left Banke

Unbelievably, both of us picked this fairly obscure song by '60s baroque rock favorites the Left Banke as first on our lists for the Sid & Susie project. Here it is, our dream come true for all to hear! (This collection of almost everything the Left Banke ever recorded is sadly out of print, but it's worth any cost to track a copy down.)

"Run to Me" ~ 'To Whom It May Concern', the Bee Gees

The Bee Gees don’t get enough respect. For instance, "To Love Somebody"--come on! So it's no surprise Sid & Susie are naturally huge fans of the Gibbs. You could say "Barry is very" in our humble opinion! This is another B. Gibb masterpiece of economy and grandeur: two verses, two choruses, done. Huge harmonies. A smash.

Listen to Topher Grace's '80s Playlist
(By Peter Gaston,, Feb 22, 2011)

When actor-producer Topher Grace decided to make a film set on one crazy night in the '80s, he knew music had to be at its core, like those winning movies of the era directed by John Hughes (Breakfast Club) and Cameron Crowe (Say Anything). So he made a mixtape, for inspiration.  "We were thinking about how much we love John Hughes movies, and we were kinda bummed people don't make them anymore, you know, where there's drama and comedy," Grace tells SPIN. "So we just made a mixtape, a super '80s mixtape, filled with stuff that might still be a hit today and has a timeless quality, but was specific to that time.... We just wanted to make a movie that could live in that genre, with that kind of music."

The result is Take Me Home Tonight (out March 4, also starring Anna Faris and Teresa Palmer), and Grace says 90 percent of the music on that original mixtape made it onto the film's soundtrack, which is out April 11. We asked Grace to talk about some of his favorite '80s music. Check out his commentary while you listen to the playlist below!

Topher says: "That was it. Back to the Future was one of the first movies I remember seeing. I didn't even know what pop music was. I remember lip-synching to that in my den in front of my dad's video camera. I also remember when that came out, I bought a skateboard the next day."

"That to me was a big find. We didn't have that on our original list but Cathy Nelson, who was the big hero of the soundtrack -- she did High Fidelity, all the great soundtracks of when I was growing up -- she found it. She helped us clear all this stuff, which is a feat. We're not a huge blockbuster $100 million movie. This one plays when me and Tori [played by Palmer] get together in the film. 'Doot Doot' was a song that I wasn't familiar with, but now it's one of my favorite songs. It's just a really beautiful song."

"In the '80s, there was actually still something called pop music, pop radio, where they played Run DMC and Guns N' Roses and Van Halen. We ended up not putting this song in the film, but we did put an Appetite for Destruction poster in. The film starts in Sam Goody. We wanted to use all these stores that don't exist anymore, like Sam Goody and Suncoast, for these kids that haven't ever seen albums or video tapes."

"That's one I knew couldn't go in the film. It's too on the nose, but it was on every mix we made that inspired us, because John Hughes did it so right. One of the things we liked about John Hughes movies was how everything happened in one day, or one night. When you look at those issues separately, it doesn't sound very epic, but if they all happen in one day or one night, they're very seminal. You hear that song and it's the feeling of the '80s we wanted to tap into."

"The reason it's not in the film -- it actually was, but we yanked it out -- we felt like it gets used so much in the promotion that it'd be distracting, but I do really love the song. We also talked a lot about how the '80s were really obsessed with the '50s and early '60s, and this song literally sounds like that ['60s girl group legend Ronnie Spector contributes guest vocals]. Look at Back to the Future. It's the kind of the same thing. People were obsessed with that period of time in the same way that we're probably obsessed with the '80s.

"In the film, when [Grace's character] Matt and Tori get together in this scene, we weave this song's musical theme back through the film's score. It's my favorite song in the film and it's my favorite scene in the film. The movie's a lot of things, but it's a romance at its heart and you need a song like that. Cameron Crowe really showed us that."

"We were thinking, 'How do we start the movie?' We only have one chance to make the quintessential '80s film that isn't making fun of the '80s so how would we start that? Your first impression is really important. Then we thought, 'It's the first music video. We've got this great opening. It really sets you in that time. And it's a really great song.' So it plays over the opening."

"I almost went with 'Hot for Teacher,' but I like 'Panama' more. This isn't in the movie. But it's just a personal favorite of the '80s. My nostalgia has caught up to the point that I'm nostalgic for everything. I'm nostalgic for Clear Pepsi. In terms of 'Panama,' there's no more fun than-- we tried to get that spirit into the movie."

"This is one of the ones from our original mixtape that helped us sort of built scenes around the songs. And then it was great -- on set, we would be able to play the songs and act some of these things out to it. This is one of them. The first time you see the golden girl that he's chasing at the party, a little bit in slow-mo. There's just something about that song."

"We wanted to feel other parts of the '80s, too. That's why Barry, Dan Fogel's character, exists. He gets fired and then we steal a car. It's an '80s movie -- we have to steal a car. In the glove compartment we find an eight-ball of coke and Barry, who has been totally straight-laced and didn't even go to college and has been working his whole life, goes in the bathroom and tries cocaine. First, he thinks it's not working and goes, 'Great, I got stuck with a bag of shit.' Then you see the card that he's been using to chop it up just stop and he goes, 'Blammo.' Then this song comes on."

"'Kickstart My Heart' is a great example of where we're all getting ready for the party and it's a feeling you can't contain. We did a whole montage of people getting ready to go to a party in the '80s. It's like a dream in the film -- people putting mousse on, shoulder pads, tons of hairspray, people getting kegs -- and each time we'd be filming these vignettes, we'd be playing 'Kickstart My Heart.'"

"The closing credits are set to this, but we also did a music video for it. To do a cast music video for a song that was done as a cover for a movie is a very '80s idea." (Watch the video here)


Are Strip Clubs The Reason Bad Mainstream Rock Is A Chart Staple?
(By Maura Johnston, Village Voice, March 4 2010)

Last week's chart column focused on the persistent album-chart presence of rock bands like Shinedown and Theory of a Deadman, and the numbers caused me to get pinged by Bubbles Burbujas, a dancer who also runs the site Stripper Tweets. "Shinedown and Hollywood Undead = club staples, ugh. THAT IS THE CHART LONGEVITY SECRET," she told me. Intrigued, I tracked her down on IM for further elaboration. What transpired was a friendly chat about the persistent popularity of Weezer, rock's status as "the music of the titty bar for 30 years," and whether or not you can give a lapdance to Animal Collective.

On Titty Bar Bands And Diva-Js

SOTC: I feel like 'mainstream rock' (as Billboard calls it) is a genre that gets the short shrift from commentators, And it's not even on the radio that much. But I guess I was wondering what the appeal was. Is it good to dance to? Is it just that the clientele likes it?
BB: Yeah, I mean, I have to hear a lot of Pussycat Dolls and Taylor Swift, too, but people write about that critically a lot more than they do Halestorm or whatever.
SOTC: I have never even HEARD Halestorm!
BB: Strictly a titty bar band I guess. I don't know if they get radio play.
BB: A lot of it comes from the DJs. At one of the clubs where I work, the main DJ (who I enjoy working with; he happily plays whatever I ask for) also DJs late mornings at the local hard rock station, so that's the kind of stuff he gets on promo. (He's a big fan of Shinedown.)
SOTC: So you've worked all over the country -- are there broad regional differences in playlists?
BB: Oddly enough, that's the kind of thing that's more different club to club than state to state.
SOTC: Do you ever bring songs in? Are the DJs resistant to that?
BB: That depends on the club format. If the owner breathes down his neck and the DJ gets in trouble for playing music the owner doesn't like, they resist. and I won't push, because I don't want them to deal with that.
BB: But yes, I often bring in my iPod, pull up a set list, and the DJ will just play that for me. A lot of dancers do that. Every once in a while you will encounter a diva DJ who won't want to play anything you give him.
SOTC: A Diva-J!
BB: Let me also add that I have heard definitively racist music policies handed down from club owners to DJs re: hip-hop/rap content of playlists. And this results in a decided emphasis on crappy rock.
SOTC: Just like blanket 'no rap' edicts?
BB: Precisely. There is a club in Dallas where the owner mandated that every third song be a country song. He thought that this would keep the wrong element out of his club. The flip side to that is of course a DJ at Magic City in ATL being the first dude to hear/play Young Jeezy or something.

"Have You Ever Met The Drummer From Alice In Chains? You Have Now."

BB: As far as the customers liking bands like Shinedown, well, they must be getting played on radio some, right? Also, these bands seem to be pretty committed to touring everywhere. I mean, they must hit the county fair circuit like mad.
BB: I have no idea what a Billboard rock chart looks like right now.
SOTC: Here you go!
BB: There's an Alice in Chains single? Huh, surprised I haven't heard that. A friend of mine was working at Mary's Club in Portland a few years ago when a guy at the bar said to her, "Have you ever met the drummer from Alice in Chains?" She said, "No," and he replied, "You have now."
SOTC: Ahahaha!
BB: I dance to Muse, I admit it, because the crowd loves it. I do now and always have thought they were a Styx for our time.
SOTC: Yes!
BB: Weezer = crowdpleaser, since these days the guys who like Weezer are pretty much a part of our target audience. And by that I mean guys who were GIANT DORKS about 15 years ago and now have money.
SOTC: So do they like new Weezer or old?
BB: Pretty much any of it. I don't need to tell you how committed Weezer fans are, I'm sure.
SOTC: Oh I know.
BB: God, Shinedown make me long for the songcraft of Our Lady Peace or Matchbox 20.
SOTC: "Come back, Puddle of Mudd, all is forgiven!"
SOTC: Wait, no. They were terrible.
BB: When I have to come up with rock sets and I can't stomach, well, that chart you showed me, I go with the White Stripes, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age. Stuff I don't really listen to, but don't find objectionable.
BB: Where are these people who still listen to broadcast rock radio? I feel so out of touch.
SOTC: I have no idea! I wonder that a lot.
BB: I guess what this comes down to is that RAWK has been the music of the titty bar for 30 years, and someone is going to keep making it. It's the music of good times! and bar fights! And male bonding through the homerotic experience of the stripper--proxy lapdancing for your friend!

Chris Cornell, Yea; Axl Rose And Gary Cherone, Nay

BB: Oh shit, you know what else I have to hear that has no life outside the club?
BB: "Scream."
SOTC: Wait, which "Scream"?
BB: Chris Cornell.
SOTC: Ack!
SOTC: Speaking of unfortunate rock albums of recent years, I don't know if you saw the story last year about songs from Chinese Democracy being serviced to strip clubs. Did that work?
BB: No toehold at all from what I heard -- there's some lines you just don't cross. Not a lot of Gary Cherone Van Halen either.

On the Comparative Lap-Dance Friendliness Of Animal Collective

SOTC: So, modern indie: Is it lapdanceable??
BB: Hahahaha. I got SO EXCITED a month or so ago when the girl on stage was dancing to "House of Jealous Lovers" and I was dancing for a guy. I was like, "You're getting SUCH a good dance because I like the Rapture."
BB: Yes, I'm a dork.
SOTC: Not at all! That song is long, though.
BB: That's what DJs are for. They can make every song between 3:15 and 3:45.
BB: A DJ played some xx for my walk-off music the other day.
SOTC: What about GAPDY -- Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Phoenix, Dirty Projectors, Yeah Yeah Yeahs?
BB: YYY have always been big with strippers, for good reason -- they have a beat.
SOTC: Is it mostly male-fronted bands?
BB: Neko Case goes over well. I have heard other girls dance to her.
BB: We are about to get into some "Whiter Shade of Pale" territory, but the first three of the GAPDY bands? Not for dancing, not for fucking. The DPs are not really for either, but have a bit of soul. YYYs are a dance band at heart.
BB: There's a girl who dances to TV on the Radio a lot at one of my clubs. Oh, and the Knife -- but no Fever Ray.
SOTC: Lots of Knife songs, or just a few?
BB: Just a couple. "Heartbeats" actually was quite a staple!

Hinder: The Worst Band Ever, Or Just The Second-Worst?

BB: It's funny that there's this sort of anachronistic aesthetic that belongs to both the rock charts and the strip club. Like, neither is "cool" or cutting edge or artistically interesting for the most part, but they both fulfill some base need for their audience. Like, why do people attach so strongly to it? Escapism, to be really vague, I guess. Guys want to be, girls want to fuck, etc.
SOTC: Sure. Although I feel like a lot of the post-grunge sort of stuff is really anti-escapist!
BB: What, like so mundane? That's true.
SOTC: Yeah, very 'woe is me.'
BB: It's still cathartic to hear songs about heartbreak and shitty lives.
SOTC: True.
BB: Although put a girl on stage to Nickelback and Hinder, and then put her up to Van Halen and Motley Crue, and I don't care if the median age of the crowd is 50 or 25, they are going to enjoy the latter more.
BB: Oh Hinder.
SOTC: Hahaha, Hinder.
BB: Please don't ever make another record.
SOTC: The worst or the ULTIMATE worst?
BB: Buckcherry is the ULTIMATE worst
SOTC: Ooh.
SOTC: See I like "From The Movies" and "Lit Up"
BB: "Lit Up" was fine. "Crazy Bitch" is as unforgivable (UFG?) as "Lips of an Angel."

Bubbles' Five Worst Songs For Dancing

Buckcherry, "Crazy Bitch"
Hinder, "Lips of an Angel"
Drowning Pool, "Bodies"
Nickelback, "Something in Your Mouth"
AC/DC, "The Jack" (because of the lyrical content)

Bubbles' Five Best Songs For Dancing (All subject to change weekly)

Whitesnake, "Slow and Easy"
James Brown, "The Payback"
Tupac, "California Love"
Daft Punk, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"
Avenue D, "Do I Look Like A Slut?"


Q&A: Rivers Cuomo Of Weezer

(By Peter Gaston and William Goodman, Spin magazine, 10 August 10, 2010)

Ten years ago, Weezer fans were guessing whether the band behind two of the most beloved '90s albums would ever return. These days, everyone's guessing what they'll do next -- thanks to a decade of catchy tunes, social media triumphs, viral video sensations, and prolific output: Hurley, out September 14, will be their sixth studio effort since 2001. While fans chatter about the new album's cover and title (featuring Jorge Garcia, who played Hugo "Hurley" Reyes on ABC's Lost) and the back-to-Pinkerton feel of lead single "Memories", we decided to check in with frontman Rivers Cuomo to get the inside scoop on all things Hurley.

What's the significance of the new album's title?
As usual, we struggled super hard trying to come up with an album title, trying to find some kind of phrase that summed up the whole aesthetic behind the album: Heavy Mental, Smaller than Life -- I was coming up with all kinds of stuff. But ultimately, we just went with some random word that doesn't really have anything to do with anything. I met and took a photo with Jorge Garcia who was Hurley from Lost; he just has this amazing vibe and his expression in that photo seemed so right, so we just called it Hurley.

In a recent interview you said, "There's definitely going to be more raw rock energy" on the new Weezer album. How so?
Weezer's become a totally kick-ass live band, and when we were making Hurley, you could just hear the sound of people going into the studio, pressing "Record," and rocking. There's just an insane amount of energy on songs like "Where's My Sex" or "Memories," and also even in the more intimate songs like "Run Away" -- lots of loose moments, out of tune moments, but tons of emotional expression. In fact, in some cases, my low-fi demos from home had the right feeling to them, so I just took my vocal track from them and put the rest of the song to that.

There seems to be a divide between old and new Weezer fans. How will the new album appeal to both those groups of fans?
I think Hurley is a record that will appeal to all kinds of Weezer fans. Fans that like the super raw, emotional stuff will be totally stoked with songs like "Run Away" and "Memories," and then at the same time, there are just really great pop songs, with great melodies and hooks, fun sing-along choruses. So I think everyone's going to love it.

With Pat Wilson on guitar and bassist Scott Shriner singing occasionally, it seems Weezer has taken on a new dynamic. Did you write most of the new songs? Or do Patrick and Scott contribute to the songwriting on the new album, too?
The recording sessions were very fluid, with all of us swapping off different instruments, just depending on what felt right at the moment. And that's pretty much how we work now. Weezer isn't stuck in roles, so we just do what we want to do, what makes us excited. The other guys aren't writing on this album, though.

When did you write the songs on the new album? Were any of them written while you were recovering from the tour bus crash?
Most of the songs were written in 2009-2010. Some of them were written in that period after the bus crash -- in fact, the first song I wrote after the bus crash was "Trainwrecks."

Tell us about a few of the songs on the album, their titles, and what they're about.
"Memories" is about that time off in between album cycles, when you're sitting at home, and you're getting bored and frustrated; you're missing the excitement of being on tour, and you're missing the companionship of your bros.

"Where's My Sex" -- I can't remember now, if it was my two-year-old daughter that said it, or my wife said it, or my wife told me that my daughter said it -- it was one of those three things. One of them accidentally said "Where's my sex" instead of "Where's my socks" -- they couldn't find their socks. And when I heard them say "Where's my sex," I just thought, "That's a cool song title right there," so I went and just started writing like crazy. And I wrote all the lyrics. First, I wrote it all about socks, like the song is all about trying to find your socks and how terrible it is when you're not wearing socks. And then I just went back and changed a few letters in the word and it became a totally different animal.

"Smart Girls" -- the song was originally "Hot Girls," about how frustrating it is to have all these amazingly hot girls tweeting at me and it just felt so frustrating because I'm not in that life stage anymore where I can do anything about it. So I wrote this song "Hot Girls." It ultimately ended up feeling -- I don't know, too macho or something? So we just changed it to "Smart Girls" and every other lyric stayed the same, like a really cheesy song about girls. But just changing that one word makes it really different and interesting.

It actually reminds me of that song "Back in the USSR" by the Beatles, because everything about that song is like a really cheesy, early Beach Boys type of song, except they changed the setting. And it becomes cool.

So that's the lesson, I think, is just to keep revising, keep working until you're satisfied that it's totally cool. If there's any little voice bothering you, like, something about this isn't cool, something about this isn't right, that means there's something yet to be discovered, so keep pushing.

"Unspoken" was written right after I got married and after living alone for so many years, having everything exactly how I wanted it, suddenly I'm living with somebody else and I have to start making compromises in my lifestyle and boy, part of my mind was really unhappy about having to compromise. It was just a real adjustment coming from my previous lifestyle.






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