Category Archives: 2000s

“In-dee-pen-dent. In-dee-pen-dent.”

The Books – “That Right Ain’t Shit” from The Lemon of Pink (2003)

I think I can speak for my fellow SWR-ians by saying that the Books fucking rule. I heard them live once on a wintry night in Chicago; I was shushed during the boring-ass opening act by an overweight beardo hipster; the Books killed; in a blissed-out stupor I talked with one of the Books afterward. The cellist. His accent was too thick to understand. I tried to shake his hand and he wouldn’t have it. (Later, Jordy asked me, “Is that what you call him? Is he a Book?) Their live set, to be sure, was fantastic. The kind of show where time disappears.

At any rate, our pal Rob tipped me off to the fact that the Books are working on a new album, to be released in the next year. In the mean time, they’re touring. I missed ’em in NC; don’t make the same mistake.

Buy the Books (or just any old book, I recommend Wolf Whistle by Lewis Nordan)

Posted by Glenn

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 2000s, Experimental, Folk, Instrumental, Post-rock

“This whiskey priest he burned the church to keep his girls alive”

New Pornographers

The New Pornographers are, in large part, responsible for indie rock’s ascension to broader popularity over the last 8 years or so.  Its supergroup make-up has resulted neither in self-destructive clashes of ego nor a stagnation of pop song ideas.  Helmed by kick-ass songwriter A.C. Newman, they rarely cut a dud tune.  I’ve seen them live a couple times and they have always been exuberant and tight.

This Dan Bejar (of Destroyer) tune is a perfect example of the band’s high caliber and features terrific vocal harmonies from Neko Case.

The New Pornographers – “Streets Of Fire” from Twin Cinema (2005)

This album is a new classic.  Buy it here.

Posted by Jordy

1 Comment

Filed under 2000s, Rock

Wurlitzer piano favorites

wurlitzer

Few instruments play melancholia like the famed Wurlitzer Electronic Piano. Its touching tremolo is often overlooked but always critical to whatever tune employs it. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

-Neil Young – “See the Sky About to Rain” from On the Beach (1974) [buy]

Neil brings the piano to the center of this song, often sending Ben Keith’s slide guitar to the side. Nevertheless, they complement each other very well.

-Kris Kristofferson – “Epitaph (Black and Blue)” from The Silver Tongued Devil and I (1971)

This song inspired the post. The Wurlitzer is probably meant to lend a more funereal mood as if it wasn’t morbid enough with the vocal and string arrangements. (Buy this album. Fans of John Prine, take note.)

-Wilco – “Jesus, Etc.” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) [buy]

Leave it to Wilco, classicists that they are, to prop the Wurlitzer up in the modern era.  Its use here is primarily as a rhythm instrument under all the strings and plucking. It doesn’t so much sing as propel the song. A lot like Supertramp might use it. Did somebody mention Supertramp?! Man, that was a great band… like Boston, but not as loud and better.

-Supertramp – “The Logical Song” from Breakfast in America (1979) [buy]

The piano is the spine of this song and, indeed, much of the album. How about that sax solo halfway through? That’s killer. What a slick song, eh?

Any other examples you’d care to cite?

*Update (7-30-09): Adam brings up the Fender Rhodes piano, which certainly has its place among the great gear of the 60s and 70s.  The Rhodes’ sound is a bit sharper and jazzier than the Wurlitzer.  I usually associate it with Bitches Brew as played by the late, great Joe Zawinul.  See Glenn’s homage and hear the Rhodes in action.  Also hear Zawinul and Jan Hammer in two different fusion outfits featuring the Rhodes.

As for rock, Pink Floyd owed a lot of its sound on Dark Side to the Rhodes.  Also, see the intro to “Sheep” from 1977’s Animals.

Posted by Jordy

9 Comments

Filed under 1970s, 1990s, 2000s, Rock

a little more Curtis

A while back, I mentioned that I thought Curtis Mayfield an unsung musical genius. Turns out the man is plenty sung, not least by Kayne West, who sampled Mayfield’s excellent “Move On Up” in his less-excellent-though-still-good “Touch The Sky”:

Curtis Mayfield – “Move On Up” from Curtis (1970)
Kayne West – “Touch The Sky (feat. Lupe Fiasco)” from Late Registration (2005)

Not sick of that horn riff yet? Check out the Jam covering it here, and Curtis himself bongo-jammin’ it here, sans horns.

Earlier I had posted one of Mayfield’s classics from his famous Superfly soundtrack, “Little Child Runnin’ Wild.” Here is a demo version, a little less ominous, featuring fewer chord changes and a brighter groove:

Curtis Mayfield – “Ghetto Child (Demo Version)” from Curtis reissue (org. 1970ish)

Finally, here’s a classic from the group that gave Curtis Mayfield his start, and for which he did some of his most beautiful writing:

The Impressions – “You Must Believe Me” from People Get Ready (1965)

Have a funkdafied weekend, y’all.

Buy Curtis Mayfield here

Posted by Glenn

3 Comments

Filed under 1960s, 1970s, 2000s, Funk, Hip-Hop, Pop, Soul

“So much beauty and just enough time to figure out how to destroy it”

Jeff W., is that you?

Jeff W., is that you?

Drive-By Truckers – “The Opening Act” from Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (2008)

I’m a little late to hop on the Drive-By Truckers Mechanical Bull Ride, which is too bad, because they used to play down here in Greensboro on a fairly regular basis. While their latest album is not nearly perfect, this song is.

“The Opening Act” is a Tonight’s The Night-esque epic. The bit toward the end, where the narrator sees the sun “rising over a Technicolor horizon,” is a beautiful example of how good bands use color and variation in music to illustrate the dramatic weight of the lyrics. The song just seems to lift off right there.

Buy it here

Posted by Glenn

6 Comments

Filed under 2000s, Country, Rock, Roots rock

“Joan of Arc rules Northeast, where the poor and the hipsters meet”

the protaganist of the S-K song below

the protaganist of the S-K song below

Sleater-Kinney – “Light Rail Coyote” from One Beat (2002)
Bill Fox – “Portland Town” from Transit Byzantium (1998)

I’m off to Portland, OR for a week of this, this, and this. So I offer two of my favorite Portland songs, including one from our main man, Bill Fox.

What are your fave geography tunes?

Buy S-K

Bill Fox is on iTunes, but you can check him out here

Posted by Glenn

2 Comments

Filed under 1990s, 2000s, Acoustic, Folk, Punk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

Elvis Costello, live


I caught Elvis Costello at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA Thursday night.  I haven’t heard much of his new bluegrassish album but he and the band sounded pretty good.  To be honest, I have trouble dealing with great rockers outside (particularly, after) their prime, be it EC, Dylan, or otherwise.  It just seems weird.

In keeping with his appropriated American identity, he played a lot of stuff from King of America (Indoor Fireworks, Brilliant Mistake, American Without Tears) and even one from Almost Blue (Merle Haggard’s “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down”):

He also covered the Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” which seemed to draw more applause and singing-along than “Blame it on Cain” or “The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes.”  They also did a nice work-up of the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale.”

Other highlights included a couple tunes from his incomplete concept opera about the life of Hans Christian Andersen.

Buy EC

Posted by Jordy

Leave a comment

Filed under 2000s, Bluegrass, Live, Rock