Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
Location: California

uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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Feel free to dig through the Deep Freeze for more, but stuff dated before mid-March 2005 is still formative and impressionistic, and not really worth the effort.

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I grew up reading Robert Christgau, Village Voice, and Lester Bangs, Creem, Punk, various others.

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Note: the copyrighted audio material on this site is for listening only, and is not downloadable. It is provided as illustrations to the articles, and to interest people in the legal purchase of these artists' material. Any copyright holder who would like their material removed should contact me, and I'll remove it.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005
 

Neverending Randomplay #271-#280

Neverending Randomplay is a feature in which I let my J-River Media Center choose what we get listen to. My collection currently stands at 17,718 titles. The lion's share are rock of all genres, with a mix of pop, blues, country, pre-rock, jazz, reggae, soul, electronic, avant-garde, hip-hop, rap, bluegrass, trance, Afrobeat, J-Pop, trip-hop, lounge, worldbeat, commercial jingles, etc. filling it out. I don't influence the track selection in any way; whatever comes up, comes up. Rated 1-5 stars.

271. Barenaked Ladies: Too Little Too Late ***
Barenaked Ladies: Maroon (2000)
This is a crisp rocker built around a crunchy guitar riff that reminds me a little of "Start Me Up". As is customary with Barenaked Ladies, the lyrics are wry; however, this doesn't give off the air of a novelty song like many of their most well-known songs. Which may be why this doesn't especially stay with you long after it plays; aside from the guitar riff, there's not a whole lot to hang on to. It's the leadoof track from their 2000 album Maroon, which followed up their 1998 smash Stunt, which featured the hit "One Week". For Maroon, the duo brought in producer Dan Was, who manages to sand off a lot of the band's charming quirks; as a result, "Too Little Too Late" is too conventional to be funny, and not funny enough to escape its own conventions.

272. The Rolling Stones: Brown Sugar (live) ***
The Rolling Stones: Flashpoint (1990)
From the 1990 live album Flashpoint, the last time the Rolling Stones had founding bassist Bill Wyman in the lineup. This rendition of "Brown Sugar" is rushed, and played at too fast a tempo; the production is murkey, robbing the guitars and saxophone of their textures; Jagger's vocals are over-echoed and indistinct, and the crowd sing-along bit adds nothing to the song. It's hard to know where to pin the blame; the band's performance is by-the-numbers, but The Glimmer Twins (Jagger and Richards) do themselves no favors production-wise. At the time, this live album was embraced; coming on the heels of the Stones "reunion" album, Steel Wheels. It doesn't serve much of a function any more; for live Stones, stick with Get Yer Ya Ya's Out.

273. Accept: Head Over Heels ****
Accept: Balls to the Wall (1984)
This opens with a thick, slow bass, and a high register guitar and kicks into a slow-to-moderate tempo metal groove. German heavy metal outfit Accept occupies a niche somewhere between the lumbering brontosaurs of the 1970's and the speed metal of the 1980's; the guitars provide huge riffs, and some crunchy propulsion; the vocals are suitably histrionic. The only thing the song lacks is much of a distinctive payoff; despite a great solo, and plenty of staccato, marching rhythm, it doesn't build into any great catharsis. This is from what is arguably Accept's most accessable album, Balls To The Wall, from 1984. A favorite among disaffected high schoolers in the 80's, I wonder how many of them actually noticed the album's blatant homoerotic references, right down to the fairly explicit album cover. The band opened for Judas Priest during much of 1982.

274. Martha Wainwright: Question of Etiquette ****
Martha Wainwright: Ground Floor [cassette] (1997)
Wainwright has one of the most naturally beautiful voices in music; a cross between Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins, with a hint of Maria Muldaur thrown in; "Question of Etiquette" stars her voice over an extremely muted guitar accompaniment, and is a good spotlight for those luscious pipes. Her voice has a pedigree; she's the daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (and brother to Rufus), Martha Wainwright's voice could best be compared to her mother's. "Question of Etiquette" comes from her debut, a cassette-only EP called Ground Floor, from 1997. It has taken her 8 years to finally get a full-length album out; Martha Wainwright appeared in 2005.

275. Pearl Jam: Jeremy ****
Pearl Jam: Ten (1991)
Emo before the term had even been coined, "Jeremy" should be fairly familiar to most readers as one of the hits from Pearl Jam's 1991 debut, Ten. In retrospect, this was a key track, signalling the band's desire to escape the limiting grunge tag and tackle more topical material than their competitors. Vedder's vocal carries authority, and the lyrics are a great deal more violent and graphic than Pearl Jam usually gets; the guitars are big and get some Sabbath-style heavy riffing in, and the production stays bouyant, keeping the song from slipping into the murk. "Jeremy" was a radio hit in 1992, and helped propel Ten to #2 on the charts; given a re-release as a single in 1995, "Jeremy" made it to #7 on its own.

276. Jefferson Airplane: War Movie ***
Jefferson Airplane: bark (1971)
This strange little fable from Jefferson Airplane's disappointing 1971 album Bark, is a hopeful story of revolution, with a science fiction bent, that sets the target date as 1975 (thus rendering the song obsolete thirty years ago). Beyond that, it's a close-harmony number dominated by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick over a bed of acoustic guitars; as the song progresses, the instrumentation grows until by the bridge, there's a full band jamming. There's something very unfinshed and disorganized about this track; the arrangement is busy and not well thought out; the instruments are mixed at odd levels, there's not a whole lot of a tune underneath. It is not dissimilar to the music on Slick and Kantner's solo albums of the day, particularly Blows Against The Empire, and Sunfighter. Bark was the first album from the Airplane without founding member Marty Balin, and his absence is felt.

277. Whiskeytown: 16 Days *****
Whiskeytown: Faithless Street (1996)
This week's randomplay has been less engaging than usual; "16 Songs" is the first real grabber of the night. It's a colorful and tuneful country rocker that borrows from Uncle Tupelo and the country-era Rolling Stones, but delivers its own original pleasures, particularly in the ragged duet on vocals, the gritty lead guitar, and the nice fiddle work. "16 Songs" is from the 1996 debut from Whiskytown, led by 20-year-old Ryan Adams. Despite Adams' longstanding reputation as a badboy and jerk, he's also blessed with a lot of talent, and "16 Days", like all of the sprawling Faithless Street, which has something of an Exile on Main Street vibe, its a mature piece of work that bears no hint of its creator's tender years.

278. The Hollies: It's You ***
The Hollies: For Certain Because (1966)
Marking a point where the Hollies were developing from an immature vocal group to a slightly beefier rock group, this still falls safely on the light side; the archaic stereo separation very distractingly places the instruments in the left channel and the echoed Clarke-Hicks-Nash three-part harmonies in the right channel, depleting the song of some meat; the harmonica has some bluesiness to it, and the bass and drums are actually present and dominant, a rarity on early Hollies recordings. "It's You" is from the 1966 album For Certain Because, which really was a maturation; the band wrote all of the songs for the first time, and the album contained the enduring hits "Stop Stop Stop" and "Pay You Back With Interest"; "It's You" is an album cut, a good one by Hollies standards of the day, but not an especially memorable one.

279. Buffy Sainte Marie: Dyed, Dead ****
various Artists: performance [Soundtrack] (1970)
This is simple a piece of incidental music from the 1969 film Performance, directed by Nicholas Roeg and starring Mick Jagger and James Fox. The movie is a masterpiece, and Jagger's role in it is one of the most interesting things he;s ever done in his career, far superior to any of his other film work. The soundtrack is a strange psychedelic hodgepodge of music, but is full of interesting bits. Folk singer Buffy Sainte Marie gets to coo over strange twanging string and percussion instruments, somewhat recalling Yoko Ono; after 50 seconds, the piece abruptly shifts into an ominous, minimalist sound collage featuring tabla.

280. James Morrison: Scream Machine ***
James Morrison: Scream Machine (2001)
James Morrison, not to be confused with another Jim, is a trumpet player who favors the upper register; on "Scream Machine", he plays five trumpet charts atop a funky, 70's-style backing band. The result is a sound not dissimilar to early 70's horn-rock band Chase, for better and worse. While the trumpets are pretty exciting, and even hint at improvisation during the break, they're still fairly conventional; the band, while good, doesn't display a lot of character. Consequently, this whole thing plays like the theme song to a forgotten 1970's TV action-drama. Taken from Morrison's 2001 album of the same title, this might appeal to fans of 70's horn bands like Chicago, Chase, and Blood Sweat and Tears.

Neverending Randomplay is usually a Wednesday feature, appearing either late or early today, depending how you look at it.

Listen to Whiskeytown: 16 Days (1996)



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