URGH! A Music Blog

The Twilight of Fred Schneider

Posted in B-52s,Johnny Cash,Pop,Roy Orbison,Sophie Ellis-Bextor by M on May 21, 2007

Let’s hear it for late-career resuscitations!

One of the best examples is Roy Orbison. Bruce Springsteen kept his name alive on “Thunder Road” in the mid-70s, much like Big Punisher did for Mobb Deep. Later on Tom Petty and the guy from ELO sat down with Orbison and created a knockout 80s single!

After that Orbison was working, even if it wasn’t always on his own terms. He became a Wilbury! And David Lynch set his music to a lip-syncing, cross-dressing Dean Stockwell!

Then show-business killed him. But Orbison retained his spotlight.

A few years after Orbison’s demise, we prepared Johnny Cash for his own twilight renaissance. This was achieved mostly by forcing the man to cover every contemporary artist possible.

I personally would have rather heard Cash cover “Hey Hey What Can I Do” or “Back On The Chain Gang”, but these songs were over a decade old! Instead, Cash was used to reassure artists with then-unproven legacies. Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, and Beck were all established artists, but only Cash could give them immortality. The hands of a master!

Now so many of our authentic, original rock figures are dead. The ones who are almost deceased are hardly waiting in obscurity: Keith Richards has topped headlines at least two separate times this year, albeit both stories were about death.

Who can the stars of this century dig up to make their own careers significant? May I suggest: The B-52s?

The B-52s

Think about it. They aren’t rock originators, but they certainly have the giddy, playful spirit of early rock and roll. Their guitars and Kim and Cindy’s original hairdos were a conscious throwback to the period. Sure, their lyrical content is just plain hallucinatory, but their rock cred is real!

Just think of what you can make them do! Timbaland won’t need Justin or Magoo to hype him when he has Fred Schneider rapping over his beats. And when it comes to female pop, Gwen Stefani and Fergie can never spazz out quite as well as our favorite blonde and redhead.

It seems that pop sensation Sophie-Ellis Bextor is ahead of the curve! She’s already co-written a song with Fred Schneider—“Supersonic”!

“I had a wishlist of people I wanted to work with, people who make really good pop music and the B-52s were on there.”

That’s the late-career recognition I’m talking about!

But if Sophie’s already put Fred to work, we may have missed the boat on The B-52s. Oh well; there’s always R.E.M.! Make Michael Stipe cover that solo Rob Thomas song!

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Posted in Beastie Boys,Rock by M on May 20, 2007

Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up

Sorry lovely people! There’s nothing exciting about the upcoming Beastie Boys instrumental album The Mix-Up.

Stereogum gives us two videos from the album. Neither are anything special. Where’s the adventure, boys?

These laid back noodle jams are one of the unfortunate side effects of the California Cool the Beasties absorbed around the time of Paul’s Boutique. Their early West Coast experiences informed their videos and expanded their constellation of sample-able materials. Unfortunately, they also made it possible for bands like 311 to exist.

When is that band going to have an instrumental album?

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Baby Girl I’m Feelin’ You!

Posted in Dance,Phil Collins,Pop,Supafly by M on May 18, 2007

Andrew Tumi from Supafly in the Moving Too Fast Video

I used to think that the goofy pop reggae of Supafly in the song “Moving Too Fast” was an affront to the 80s song it sampled.

Until I realized it was fucking Phil Collins.

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Stonebridge and Therese

Posted in Dance,Digital Dog,Stonebridge,Therese by M on May 18, 2007

Pardon my absence. I have spent the last few weeks pitting two of my most prized musicians against each other in a battle for my soul.

The two artists? Swedish all-stars Stonebridge and Therese. Once partners on phenomenally hot songs like “Put ‘Em High” and “Time”, they are now going head to head with two separate singles: “S.O.S.” and “Feelin’ Me”.

Both songs feature deliciously high female vocals, nonsense exclamations, and artery-bursting beats. Top-shelf efforts by both! However, “Feelin’ Me” grew on me more and more, until I couldn’t go anywhere without purring to myself: “Driven by your love, I just wanna—UH!”

The people to thank for Therese’s success this outing are the boys of Digital Dog. I’ve enjoyed their past work, but this is their first stratospheric success. Keep up the good work!

Also check out the official “Feelin’ Me” music video on YouTube, where her record label calls her “Queen of the Swedish Dance Mafia.”

So if Therese is the de-facto Michael Corleone, does that make Stonebridge Sonny? Or Fredo?

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

Don’t ask Therese about her business!

Oh-Ah Oh-Ah-Oh-Ah-Oh!

Posted in Hip-Hop,M.I.A. by M on May 7, 2007

Real quick on M.I.A.‘s not-upcoming “Hit That” that’s been floating around the Internet: I’m not feeing it. M.I.A. is having Fun With Sound, and I am all for supporting the sonically adventurous. Pop music cannot evolve if we aren’t willing to get weird.

But “Hit That” isn’t hitting the sweet spot. The borrowed lyrics (you know what I mean) aren’t meaningful, the beats are unexceptionally minimal, and the nonsense chanting just isn’t catchy.

M.I.A. carefully, cleverly places just a little too much dead air within the track’s pauses, but the effect falls flat. She can’t nudge us off our seats if we’re not already on the edge.

As to those that praise “Hit That’s” FEMA name-dropping, there’s no political content here. M.I.A. spends more time with The Chappelle Show, Pro Tools and YouTube. She also threatens: “Don’t wanna be talkin’ ’bout moi,” so maybe that’s a Miss Piggy reference.

Miss Piggy

M.I.A. could even learn some fashion sense from the Muppet.

…The Bad, and The Queen

Posted in Pop,Queen Elizabeth II,Tori Amos by M on May 6, 2007

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

You know it’s bad when I see a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and think: “Fuck this Tori Amos bullshit!

Sorry your Majesty!

Tori Amos as Pip.

What’s with these American Doll Posse alter-egos of Tori, anyway? Putting on different wigs and typing inexplicable nonsense just makes her seem like…plain old Tori Amos. Or Gloria Estefan.

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Pretty Much Idiotic!

Posted in Napoleon Dynamite,Pop by M on May 5, 2007

I have come to revile the two-word qualifier “pretty much”. It’s bad!

Why? First off, it’s wishy-washy. Defend your opinions, bloggers! The Killers are either acceptable or awful; they aren’t “pretty much my favorite band.” Really, they aren’t.

More importantly, the words “pretty much” make everyone sound like Napoleon Dynamite. Not only is your statement weak, it’s couched in Dynamite’s hoarse, childish whine. People, the world needs far fewer Napoleon Dynamites.

A fake Napoleon Dynamite

The web’s worst “pretty much” offender? None other than Pitchfork Media! Their headline “Peter Hook Pretty Much Confirms New Order’s Demise” today had me frothing at the mouth. Show me some muscular prose, music dweebs!

I did a Google search for “pretty much” on Pitchfork. 24,500 results! Pitchfork authors have used the mealymouthed, movie cliched phrase possibly tens of thousands of times! The Brooklyn Vegan and Stereogum losers don’t even come close.

I’m issuing a fatwa! Any music publications which want to be taken seriously must write seriously! No half-assed, unenforced statements! No mumbled, disinterested headlines! No “pretty much”!

Bonus Hypocrisy: I’ve used the forbidden phrase once before here at the URGH! I describing Schiller’s music as “pretty much an album long riff on the same chord progressions as Phil Collins’s ‘In The Air Tonight’.”

In my defense, I cannot hear Napoleon Dynamite quoting my words. However, take out “pretty much” and I can almost hear them coming from between the pearly whites of Patrick Bateman….

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, holding an axe.

“I really wish Patrick Bateman would start a music blog,” says Brooklyn Vegan reader Will. Make it happen B.E. Ellis! We’ll compare business cards later.

Requiem for Wreckx-N-Effect

Posted in Hip-Hop,Jay-Z,M.I.A.,Wreckx-N-Effect by M on May 4, 2007

Get over to Status Ain’t Hood NOW NOW NOW!

Tom Breihan knocks one out of the park today with the article On the Continuing Resonance of “Rump Shaker”.

Spurred by the song’s recent appropriation by M.I.A. and Jay Z, Breihan explores a delicious history of early 90s rap-cheese. One highlight of many:

I remember reading somewhere that the group [Wreckx-N-Effect] got into a brawl with A Tribe Called Quest backstage at Showtime at the Apollo; the two crews had a beef that the Nation of Islam eventually got involved in stopping. (If that had happened during the Internet age, I would’ve absolutely blogged the fuck out of it.)

I said the same thing about Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” video!

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