My Boyfriend's Record Collection

I'M GOING TO LISTEN TO IT ALL. Rock n' Roll frontman/music industry dude starts dating music-loving chick who thought she knew it all. She was wrong. So each day they pick a record from his (ever growing) collection to review. HE writes about it, SHE writes about it (no sharing before posting) and then it's onto the next. Note: Posts are best read when listening to the choice song (http://songza.com/listen/my-boyfriend-s-record-collection-EmilyNewman/) .

May 23, 2012 7:09 pm
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  • Burning of the Midnight Lamp
  • By: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Electric Ladyland
  • 643 Plays

Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Album: Electric Ladyland
Released: 1968
Label: Reprise
Choice Song: Burning of the Midnight Lamp

HIS: I’ve been doing this rock and roll thing a long time. I’ve been playing in bands for over 15 years, I’ve toured all over the country and I’ve been working in the “industry” for almost 6 years now. So you could say I’ve been around. But I wouldn’t say I’ve been around The Block just yet. I’ve been up and down The Block. I’ve hung out at a lot of houses on The Block. I’ve even been to a Block party or two. But I’ve yet to make it all the way around The Block. I’ve hung out with plenty of my heroes and I’ve become great friends and collaborated with some people I’ve always very much admired. I’ve been on some pretty big stages and I’ve hung out with some pretty heavy hitters. So, at the risk of sounding like a douchebag, it takes quite a bit to impress me. HOWEVER! Anyone who’s been tuned in to this blog for more than a few minutes probably knows how I feel about Jimi Hendrix. To me, there are no others when we’re talking about Jimi. To me, Jimi is the beginning, the middle and the end of rock and roll. He is everything we should try to be and none of us will ever come close. Surely, the girlfriend can tell you that I recently confessed to her that I don’t like listening to Jimi with other people around because he does some weird shit to me, but it goes much deeper than that. Even though he died twelve years before I was born, I’ve always felt that Jimi was as close a friend to me as anyone I’d never met. Jimi Hendrix’s guitar often makes me cry. So all of my cool mule, unimpressed candor went completely out the fucking window last week when I was invited by a friend to sit in on a mixing session at Electric Lady Studios. AKA The House That Jimi Built. Yea. I was freaking out. Like a little girl meeting Cinderella at the Magic Kingdom, I approached the front door of the Electric Lady with sweaty palms and a fluttering heart. Holy shit. I’m going to hang out in Jimi’s studio. And then after we were buzzed in and found our way down the stairs to the waiting room, I looked around thinking so many thoughts about Jimi and his records and his guitars and the studio and me and my dad and everything that his music has meant to us and I realized I was smack in the middle of a rare, “Holy fucking shit I can’t believe I’m actually here” moment. And then I slowly went through the songs that Jimi recorded here and I wondered what this place looked like in the late ’60s. And then I wondered where he sat and where he tracked his guitar and where they hung out and if they went outside to smoke or if they stayed down here. And then, just as I was thinking about how amazing it must have felt for Jimi to finally have built his own studio, his personal pleasure dome, one of the biggest bands in the world (I won’t say which) walked out of Studio A. And I was very unmoved. Because I’ve been down that Block.

HERS: Everything you need to know about a man you can tell by the way he treats his guitars. The HIS to my HERS has 6 in our apartment, and many more back home. Make no mistake these guitars are the most precious things in life to him (in addition to the records). He’s roughed them up over the years, broken their strings, sprung their springs, dented, scratched and rendered them out of tune. You can see the scars, stickers and tough love. He pushes them to give him the most out of life. And they do. Always with one by his side and no further than just out of reach, they are both his security and his release. One stands unplayed in the closet for months only to reemerge as if it were his latest brand new toy. His jeans are worn until they’re tattered, his shirts holed in the elbow, his hair long and untrimmed until a cut is essential. But at the first hint of a problem, the guitar goes in the shop. He loves them all equally for different moods, sounds and seasons. He needs them all. They’ll never leave him. Don’t drop it, scratch it or knock it against any wall. Until it’s time to rock, that is. And then he can play the living daylights out of the thing until sweat splashed the body from his brow and blood from his fingers drips down the strings onto his Doc Martens. But in the morning he’ll open the case gently, dust it off ever so carefully, wipe it clean, re-pack it perfectly so and journey on with it to the next show. Everything you need to know about a man you can tell by the way he treats his guitars.

May 7, 2012 10:21 pm
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  • Samba Pa Ti
  • By: Santana
  • Abraxas
  • 77 Plays

Artist: Santana
Album: Abraxas
Released: 1970
Label: Columbia
Choice Song: Samba Pa Ti

HIS:
 When I was a kid I used to steal away to my father’s record collection, quietly pulling out certain albums and slowly going over and mesmerizing every inch of the artwork. I was far too young to operate the old man’s hi fi so this would have to be my only connection to his massive stacks of LPs when he wasn’t around to drop the needle for me. I’d sit there for hours, pulling out record by record, remembering exactly where to return it so as to not disturb the alphabetic rigidity of my father’s collection. Some covers made me think of the greater universe (Boston’s Boston, ELO’s Out Of The Blue), some gave me nightmares (Emerson, Lake And Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery, Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love) and still some made me wonder what each band member on the cover was thinking (The Who’s Who’s Next).

But then there were a few others which forced me to stare in befuddled amazement. The most important one of these was Santana’s Abraxas. I had no idea what the fuck was going on here. Of course, I had yet to hit my hallucinogen phase, so of course I couldn’t fully appreciate the psychedelic bazaar that was the Abraxas cover. All I knew was that it was exotic and wild and scary and engaging and that as soon as my dad came home we were going to put on this record.


HERS:
The boyfriend and I recently moved in together. Typically when a girlfriend moves in with a boyfriend, the mixing of their stuff usually involves at least one couch getting thrown out, her filling up his closet with shoes and their bathroom overflowing with buckets of test-sized cosmetics. This isn’t exactly the case here. I mean, mostly anyway. Sure, the Irish Spring soap has been replaced with a fragrant “stress-relieving” body wash** and a purple loofah (What is a loofah??) and the bed has doubled in pillows. But there’s no ManCave with a leather couch and no garage filled with phallic toolbox toys. There are, however, right next to my vanity, no less than 6 guitars. While other women move into garages of sports cars, I’ve moved into a makeshift music studio. It could be worse. Guitars stack up nicely in their cases and amps sit handsomely while doubling as great laptop desks. Though all are heavy. Very, very heavy. I was watching him play the guitar just yesterday, actually. When he’s on stage rocking out and the amp is turn-it-up-to-11 loud, it’s hard to really appreciate the intricacy this instrument requires. But when he’s messing around quietly and manipulating the thing, it’s a different story all together. Sometimes he hands me a guitar and says, “you do it.” I’m useless. My hands feel too small, the guitar itself is heavy and I can’t seem to reach my fingers far enough even though I can hit a full octave easily on the piano. No wonder he idolizes icons like Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. In all my boyfriend’s 6’4” glory, his guitars look like finger puppets in his hands. Carlos stands about 5’10” Google tells me, but still the guitars look like putty in his. He plays the guitar like it’s a piano with countless keys making it do whatever he wants in any which way. I wonder how many guitars Carlos had in his first apartment he shared with a girl.

April 27, 2012 2:06 pm
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  • Greatest Of All Time
  • By: Archers Of Loaf
  • Vee Vee
  • 79 Plays

Artist: Vee Vee
Album: Archers of Loaf
Released: 1995
Label: Alias Records
Choice Song: Greatest of All Time

HIS:
Indie Rock Then: “Rock” was the operative term back then. Like ‘em or not, pretty much all of the first gen indie rock bands did just that. They rocked. They had Marshall stacks and Big Muffs and gnarly guitars and thundering drums and attitudes and not much style but a shitload of substance. Not only could they write great songs but also they had the chops to play them. Bands slugged it out on the road, winning over fan after sweaty fan on a van circuit of small clubs and DIY shows around the nation. Handmade tapes and 7”es exchanged hands and that’s how careers were made. The bands reeked of the utmost honesty. “This is who we are. You’re gonna dig it or you’re not. But we’ll be here doing it either way.” The Minutemen. Butterglory. Dinosaur Jr. Red Red Meat. Sonic Youth. Pipe. Afghan Whigs. Wingtip Sloat. Red Krayola. Mudhoney. The Fall. Pavement. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. Guided By Voices. Superchunk. Polvo. And of course, in my opinion, the greatest of all time Archers Of Loaf.

Then somewhere along the line, “indie rock” just became “indie.”

Indie Now: For very obvious reasons it really isn’t known as “indie rock” anymore. Now it’s just kind of “indie,” which often means nothing, seeing as so many of these young “indie” bands are releasing records on huge record labels. Somewhere along the line, the angry drummer was replaced by a drum machine or a floor tom situated at the front of the stage. Boys and girls who can barely mimic their way through the simplest of Velvet Underground songs bury their hookless, soulless, songless tunes in oceans of reverb and delay. Volume and attitude are a thing of the past and, thanks to the internet, most fans are won over before many bands have even played enough shows to get great. Too many bands have Twitters and Facebooks and Soundclouds and Instagrams and Bandcamps before they even have a fucking record. Even in the age of superconnectivity, you don’t really get that brutal honesty anymore. “Hey we’re gonna make this record because it’s kind of what everyone else is doing and how else are we gonna get signed if we don’t fit this indie mold?” Sweaters. Local Natives. Freelance Whales. Friends. Grizzly Bear. Miike Snow. fun. The Weeknd. Washed Out.

And you wonder why we long for the past. We saw Archers Of Loaf last night and sure enough they rocked. It was one of the most refreshing things I’ve seen in a long time. There they were, just a bunch of knuckleheads - rather unfashionable knuckleheads - up there having a fucking blast, sweating their hearts straight into their guitars, rocking the fucking crowd’s brains out. There was no pretense. There was no faking. There were no coverups. There were just four dudes who could write the hell out of a song and play the hell out of their instruments and put on one hell of a show. You don’t really get that type of honesty anymore.

*This post is a gross generalization. Deal with it.

HERS:
Like Archers of Loaf, I hail from the Tar Heel state. Watching them play in New York last night, I was taken back home. Not that I listened to them in my days of youth — I’m far too uncool for that. But there’s something about the guitarist’s Adidas Sambas, the bassist’s torn jeans, and the lead singer’s shy side (sorry drummer, I couldn’t see your outfit, but you rocked) that reminds me of the kids I grew up with. Skaters with long hair and baggy jeans, theatre nerds who flocked together proudly, dark artsy types, quiet musicians, and grungey wannabes. I miss those kids. I miss those times. It all makes me miss North Carolina. Looking at the band rock their way into the screaming, jumping, raucous crowd, I wondered where these guys all lived in North Carolina. And what it would be like to live again on tree-lined streets. If I could live again in North Carolina, where would I go? Where would I fit in? What would it be like to smell freshly cut grass when you walked out your door? See trees from your bedroom window? Drive to the grocery store? Who would I be if I hadn’t ditched the south for New York City? We’ll never know, it doesn’t really matter and most likely I’ll remain equal parts of both. Kinda like Archers of Loaf. They’ve got this huge loyal following to show for all their hard working and harder rocking through the years into today. But no matter how grey Eric Bachmann’s beard gets, they’ll always be those kids from North Carolina who sure know how to rock.

April 25, 2012 5:20 pm
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  • I Found You
  • By: Alabama Shakes
  • Boys & Girls
  • 26 Plays

Artist: Alabama Shakes
Album: Boys & Girls
Released: 2012
Label: ATO
Choice Song: I Found You

HIS:
The Hype Machine. What a tricky and unforgiving beast it can be. One minute you’re a nobody, the next you’re King Shit and The Golden Boys (bonus points if you can tell me what this references), and the minute after that you’re being swallowed in so much scorn and backlash that you’re wondering why all of these people who’ve never even bothered to come see your band play hate you so much. That or you’re selling out Terminal 5. So that’s the unforgiving part. The tricky part, of course, is delivering. 99 out of 100 times these buzzybuzzybuzz bands who the blogs just CAN’T get enough of have been together for less than a few years, play some kind of bullshit electronic music that does not translate to a live setting or just plain can’t really play their instruments. But this isn’t their fault. You see, the most important thing for a band or musician is the period of being unknown. Those first few years when nobody gives a fuck about you is when you figure out who you are - your musical pubescence, in other words. It’s where you make your mistakes and it’s how you come out the other side a light-the-fucking-ceiling-aflame band that can blow most national touring bands off the stage. It’s the hunger to succeed and to have people hear your voice that makes a band get better. However, when The Hype Machine gets rolling, bands aren’t afforded that time and they pretty much all suffer because of it. It wasn’t always this way. People used to earn their way up the ladder (now I’m not tirading here about how the internet has destroyed “earning it” because that’s another conversation for another time). You used to start in a basement then you’d move up to a VFW hall then maybe a local bar then probably a bigger club then up and on to a big proper rock and roll club and finally, if you were lucky, you’d end up in a massive theater playing to thousands of adoring fans whom you’ve earned with each and every single show you’d played in their town. But this took years and hundreds if not thousands of shows. But with each and every passing show, you learned something. And as the crowds got bigger and bigger, you’d slowly figure out how to touch each and every one of them. That was the learning curve. However today we have bands who go from playing in front of ten friends to selling 2500 tickets in less than a year and they simply haven’t learned how to translate to those bigger crowds. Be it technical ability, banter, stage presence, setlists or the idea that lights are also part of the show, so many bands who’ve reaped the rewards of The Hype Machine also fall flat on their face because of it. So what am I getting at here? The Alabama Shakes are maybe the most egregious beneficiary of The Hype Machine in a long, long time. They’re fucking EVERYWHERE. But the difference between Alabama Shakes and so many of the other buzz bands who can barely rock their way out of a paper bag… these motherfuckers can play. Surely it’s due to years of toiling in the local bars of Athens, Alabama, in total obscurity, working their way through standards and covers. But no one gave a fuck. And now that they do, these guys know exactly how to rock your socks off.

HERS:
Ugh, I love this album! I love it! So much! And I know I’m not the first. And I know they’re absolutely everywhere. And I know my voice is one in a sea of join-the-bandwagon followers. I know that they’re blowing up and that everyone is going to claim them as their own kinda unknown band that really everyone knows about and already loves. They’ll say they were there from the beginning. That they knew of them before everyone else did or before they were in heavy rotation on MTV. But I just don’t care. Because they’re great. SHE’S particularly great. And I just want to put her into a category all its own. Not the newest indie hipster band. Not the overnight sensation that popped up on MTV. Not the unknown band that goes major. I just want them to be in the category of hard working awesomess. When did loving music become some rat race of cool? What other thing do we love, but only admit we love it if we were the first and then pretend to be over it—or even deny it all together—once everyone else loves it too? What is that?! If you like it, you like it. Own it! And get over yourself! These guys rule and they’re gonna be huge and then they’ll put out a second record and everyone will have an opinion and I just don’t care. Because I want her to succeed. SO BADLY. So just take the pleasure in enjoying the music. Nobody cares about your opinions. It’s not about YOU. A funny thing to say when I self publish yet another self-important music blog. But still! I just love them! And I want to scream it from the hilltops. Or at least from my self-important cred-less music blog.

April 10, 2012 5:12 pm
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  • Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
  • By: Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
  • The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
  • 301 Plays

Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
Released: 1973
Label: Columbia
Choice Song: Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

HIS:
Yea dude, I know. I know exactly what you’re thinking (if you are a frequent reader of our blog), “But you’ve already done three Bruce albums already. In fact, one was just last post.” Yea well. Sometimes plans need to be altered. And hopefully any time you alter a plan, it’s for a good reason. See, I had planned on pulling out something a little more heavy. Maybe Railroad Jerk’s “Speed The Plough” or Killdozer’s “Intellectuals Are The Shoeshine Boys Of The Ruling Elite.” But something very special happened to me last night; something that I’ll likely never forget. I saw Bruce in concert for the first time ever. Here’s where you say, “WHAT?! But dude I thought you were soooooooooo Jersey and sooooooooo rock and roll?” Yea well, why don’t you take a minute and quickly read my entry for Bruce’s Live Boxset? That should shed some light for you. But now. Back to last night. Sold out. MASSIVELY sold out. Tickets were going in places for over $2000. And there were she and I, battling the mid-afternoon reality and impending depression that we weren’t going to be able to score tickets and that I’d miss The Boss yet again. But at the eleventh hour, we scored a miraculous pair of tickets that sat us fifteen rows off the stage, right above where Clarence used to stand. We got to the Garden about an hour early, freaked out over our seats, grabbed a pair of beers and settled in. What ensued was unquestionably the greatest rock and roll concert I’ve ever seen. Bruce pulling a ten-year-old kid onto the stage to sing the chorus of “Waiting On A Sunny Day,” Little Steven’s fiery intro to “Rosalita,” Clarence’s nephew Jake Clemons hitting most of the notes the Big Man used to lay down (unfortunately for Jake, no one can ever hit those notes. Those are The Big Man’s notes and only the Big Man could ever play them), Nils Lofgren’s famous guitar soloing and myriad other E Street-isms were all on display in full force and Bruce and his band gave a performance that could hardly be matched by a band one-third their age. Nearly four hours of hits, both old and new. Nearly four hours of ass shaking, foot stomping, fist pumping and chorus screaming. But the best moments of the night were Bruce’s two tributes to his right hand man; to C. First, early in the set, the lights in the house went down and the only one left illuminated was the spotlight that shone stage right, just there on the massive spot that the Big Man used to make look so little. It shone on his absence and Bruce reminded us not to be sad because as long as we’re here and the band is here, Clarence will be here. I wish I could tell you if there was a dry eye in the house but I couldn’t tell. My eyes were too full with tears. The next tribute - one that fit the E Streeters much better - was far less solemn, because, after all, it’s the E Street we’re talking about here. As the band was wailing through their night-closer “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” Bruce ran out through the crowd, onto a platform that was set up in the middle of the general admission crowd and began to sing the verse, “When the change was made uptown and The Big Man joined the band.” It was just there that the band stopped on a dime and Bruce directed to the crowd where the jumboscreens played a two-minute montage of the Big Man to the Garden-rattling cheers of the 20,000-strong crowd. It was a funeral party. A rock and roll goodbye for the Big Man. A sendoff that only Bruce and The E Street could give. Wish I could tell you more, but those damn tears have a way of fighting right back onto your cheeks at a time like that.

HERS:
Over the past year plus, I’ve watched my own boyfriend’s band perform numerous times. Whether they’re playing for 7 or 70 people, they put on the same hard rocking, sweat-filled, sprint-paced, spirited rock show. It’s not just because he’s from Jersey and has a strong sax in his band that people compare him to Bruce Springsteen. For his entire life, he’s been eyeing The Boss. Sure he’s learned some moves and mixed them with his own. But it’s less about how he moves and more about what he stands for. Rock n’ roll. The common man. And having a blast. Probably beers, too. But until last night, he had never seen Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band live. Hard to believe, but true.

And it was no less than a life-changing concert. I don’t say that in a cliche way, either. I fully mean it. To kick off the night the band walked into the stage with every single ceiling light on in the whole place. They simply took their places, picked up their instruments, and to an uproarious applause, began to play. No opener. No light show. Just rock n’ roll — as only Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band can deliver. They treated Madison Square Garden like it was just another bar they were playing on just another night surrounded by their closest friends. Show me some other megastar band that has that feel about them when playing to 20,000 people. From the first note they went from 0 to 60 and didn’t stop for almost four hours straight. Bruce sprinted around the stage, pulled fans up to sing with him, slapped their hands, handed them the mic, even drank their beers, and crowd-surfed. Were they at some Blarney Stone or even the Stone Pony, I’m guessing the show would be just the same. And leave it to Bruce to make you feel like this very show you just happened to get tickets to was personally tailored just for you. Maybe it’s because both Bruce and we have lost someone dear to us in the recent past (Clarence!). Maybe because you always hear that one song you were hoping they’d play and you assume they’re playing it just for you (Rosalita!!). But probably it’s because Bruce seems to always feel your pain and share in your joy no matter who you are or what’s going on (Bring On Your Wrecking Ball!!!). Of course, this means I fully wept through no less than 5 songs. Some rocker I am. Meanwhile to my right, my boyfriend was playing cool, methodically watching every move and mentally taking notes on it all. It was possibly the best concert we’ve ever been to (to date) — and we’ve been to quite a few (as chronicled in this blog). They don’t call him The Boss for nothing.

April 5, 2012 5:36 pm
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  • Wrecking Ball
  • By: Bruce Springsteen
  • Wrecking Ball
  • 99 Plays

Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: Wrecking Ball
Released: 2012
Label: Columbia
Choice Song: Wrecking Ball

HIS:
Like I’ve already said many times during the life of this blog, being a kid who grew up on the Jersey Shore Bruce is a part of my blood. I often consider him nearly as close of a friend as the kids I actually spent my childhood with on those dirty and beautiful beaches. So I can’t really remember the first time I’d ever heard Bruce but I do remember that I had made my way through Bruce’s catalog very early in life. And I do remember not initially associating Bruce with home. I guess that’s part of being ingrained with something. You don’t know why it’s always there, exactly. It’s just always there. It was due to this fact that Bruce’s Jerseyhood was one of the last things I remember discovering about him. I first remember sitting in my parents living room, listening to Born In The USA over and over and over again. It was the biggest record in the world back then. And I remember  being so enamored and digging and deeper and finding Born To Run. And i remember falling in love with that sax and the mystery underneath the pulled-low hat of the Big Man and his dark, exotic skin. And i remember going even further and listening to The Wild, The Innocent and I remember falling in love with how raw of a record it was. And I remember wondering to myself what ever became of Rosalita? And then I remember finding Greetings From Asbury Park. And I remember… Wait a second. Asbury Park? Like, Jersey Shore Asbury Park? No. Bruce couldn’t be from Asbury Park. Bruce was huge. He was the biggest singer in the world. He had to have been from New York City. Or Hollywood. Or Dallas. Or Memphis. He had to have been from someplace famous. He had to have been from someplace spectacular. Bruce wasn’t average. He wasn’t normal. No way Bruce could have been from the Jersey Shore. No way Bruce could have been from my neck of the woods. Nothing that magical came from the Jersey Shore. But he was. Just forty miles north of me. A straight shot up the Garden State Parkway. Along a beach that was connected to my very own. There he was - a restless kid from the Jersey Shore - just like us.

HERS:
What is it about Bruce Springsteen that makes him so goddamn all-American and embraced by basically every soul-bearing person in the world? Is it the torn jeans? The tatted shirts? The fact that he can still pull off a choker? Think about it for a minute. Ninety-nine out of 100 guys who slaps on a pair of tight worn-in pants with a sleeveless button down shirt looks ridiculous. But not Bruce. You just can’t NOT like The Boss. That would be heartless. And unpatriotic. But why is that?? We’d never elect Justin Bieber to be our president, but if Bruce Springsteen ran I think he’d really have a shot. Except he’d probably never be caught dead wearing a suit. But he’d do it his OWN way, damnit! Why can’t you shake the hand of the British Prime Minister in jeans, working boots and a plaid shirt?? This is America after all, isn’t it??? And maybe that’s precisely why listening to Bruce has the effect on people that it does. Like anything is possible. Like the suffering you’ve worn in your life has been worth it. That you’re not alone. That’s it’s not always pretty and wrapped up nicely in a pop star package. Because he’s just like you. He’s human. But listening to a new Bruce album is a unique thing. We’ve heard the classics over and over for years. Now with this new album, all is possible. Which song will become an anthem your own kids will sing? Which song will make you cry? Which song will make you want to hug your woman and call your father? Any of them. All of them. Because he’s singing right to us. To you. To me. And he means every word.

April 4, 2012 8:36 pm
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  • My My, Hey Hey - Out Of The Blue
  • By: Neil Young & Crazy Horse
  • Rust Never Sleeps
  • 8 Plays

Artist: Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Album: Rust Never Sleeps
Released: 1979
Label: Reprise
Choice Song: My My, Hey Hey - Out Of The Blue

HIS:
Neil Young is always a bone of contention among rock nerds. Most everyone will agree that Neil is one of the finest songwriters of his or any generation. This truth is universal. However, the ship begins to inevitably rock at first mention of Neil’s superiority as either a singer and guitar player. Many say his voice is worse than nails on a chalkboard. Many others say that his guitaring is remedial at best. But here’s the reality. Neil is as great a guitar player as he is a singer. (And Neil is one of the greatest singers of all time.) Not because he can burn your house down with his virtuosity or blow your mind with his range. His greatness lies in his severe limitations. You hear a Neil guitar and you know exactly who’s playing. You hear that voice wail and it’s unmistakable. As any given trip through Guitar Center will prove to us, it’s really not that hard to be a really good guitar player. Any jerk can learn the notes on a scale and can practice until they’re “blessed” with Yngwie-esque speed. Plenty of people can hit the high notes when they sing and run through an octave just fine. But rare is the artist who can speak to you with his guitar and rare is the singer who can take his mangled, painful voice and break your heart every time he sings.

HERS:
Look, I’m gonna say something and it’s gonna piss you off. Big time. I get Neil Diamond and Neil Young confused. I KNOW! I KNOW! It’s inexcusable. They’re wildly different people!! With wildly different sounds, songs, voices, albums, personalities, opinions, backgrounds, and outlooks on life and mankind as a whole. BUT! They do have the same name, are roughly the same age and have those EXACT SAME crazy bushy eyebrows. And apparently that’s all it takes in my case. Because I just wrote a whole post on Neil Diamond. Fail. I’m that easy to fool. I realize it’s totally ridiculous, embarrassing and shameful. But I’ve gotta be honest. Listen, I’m guessing if/when I have a bunch of kids and they grow up and look back at our music listening habits and TV watching patterns they’re going to look at us and ask, “How the HECK did you keep track of which Jersey Shore fist-pumper was which and which Mob Wife was which and all the different Bachelors and Bachelorettes, all the winners and losers of American Idol, Survivor, America’s Got Talent, X Factor and Dancing With The Stars?! Not to mention all the Britneys, Christinas, Pussycat Dolls, Jewels, Avril Lavignes, Hilary Duffs, Ashlee Simpsons….” OBVIOUSLY I realize that neither Neil falls in the lowlife category of a number of these flash in the pan pseudo non celebs. I get it. I’m totally off here. Heck, one is anti-immigration and one is freaking Canadian for crying out loud! You’d think that would help me clear up the situation. But no. It doesn’t help. And yes, I’m absolutely going to get a serious lecture because of this post. There’s a chance I’ll be full-on dumped. But if we can’t expose our deepest, darkest hidden feelings for all the public to see on our nerdy, trivial, and self-important blogs…where else CAN we be in society today?!?! It’s a question Neil Diamond would probably very much like to discuss. Wait…or is it Neil Young? CRAP!!

March 26, 2012 5:03 pm
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  • The Night Is Still Young
  • By: Pizzicato 5
  • The Sound of Music
  • 49 Plays

Artist: Pizzicato 5
Album: The Sound Of Music
Released: 1995
Label: Matador
Choice Song: The Night Is Still Young

HIS:
Matador Records; icons of guitar-driven indie rock, classic 90s culture, garage classics and Japanese retro-leaning, 60s hipster throwback Shibuya-kei! Wait. What? Matador put out a Shibuya-kei record? What the fuck?! That was approximately the reaction I had as a teenager when I first bought this album. For those of you who don’t know, shibuya-kei was a late-90s movement in Japanese music that blended the modern sounds of electropop with classic stylings of 60s hipster lounge music. Think Burt Bacarach meets The Sugarcubes. Still with me? Good. Now you understand my reaction when I first heard that Matador Records, arguably my favorite record label of all-time, had signed P5. Of course, here I will refer you to our Das Damen post where I explain how there are certain record labels you just trust, whether or not you think you dig the style of music of a certain record they’re releasing. Matador was one of the best at this. It may not have sounded like Pavement or Yo La Tengo or Thinking Fellers Union but you knew that there had to have been something special about the record you weren’t sure you wanted. Only because it had that iconic waving flag on the back and if they said it was cool, then yea it was probably pretty cool. So of course I picked up this CD if only for that waving flag and for a long, long time I wasn’t sure exactly what it was about. In fact, I’m still not sure exactly what it’s about. But I loved how it sounded. And I loved its songs. And I loved this band. And in the end, isn’t that all that matters?


HERS:
You truly can’t judge a book by its cover. Because if the owner of said record collection were a book cover, he’d be the Encyclopedia of Punk Rock sold used at a supercool East Village bookstore (a book I recently bought him). But were you to actually start reading that book, inside you’d find a few unexpected chapters. More than a few, actually. You’d find some old Italian music, some folk love songs, old timey soul music, and even the very surprising Kelly Clarkson chapter. Wha?! Usually when a guy is all, “I love all kinds of music,” he typically hands you some obvious jazz CD he burned you or sentimental singer/songwriter stuff he wrote back in college. Instead, he puts this record on and I’m listening to some Japanese pop group he loves that I never knew existed. But this isn’t new. These are the kinds of unexpected layers I’m dealing with (even over a year in) that continue to surprise me everyday. Before I elaborate further, let me remind you that this is the man who forces me to watch entire Iron Maiden concerts on the Palladia channel while quizzing me on my Maiden knowledge (which is lacking, apparently) and following it up with required Black Breath listening sessions. Meanwhile, ice skating? Loves it. The Artist? Dying to see it. Sure he fell asleep during The King’s Speech, but if he’s up late watching some terrible romantic comedy when he should just turn in and go to sleep, he’s hooked until the obvious and painfully cheesy end (I’m talking to you, Something Borrowed). Also fruit. He’s a football-sized, 6’4” man who cannot get enough fruit in his life. And I’m not talking about the way I eat fruit (i.e.- an excuse to eat peanut butter or Nutella by the spoonful). I’m talking about strictly pure raspberries, apples (green only), and strawberries (stems off so you can eat the whole thing). As dessert, no less. Just goes to show that when a guy takes you on a date to see King Tuff at the Knitting Factory, there may be more than meets the eye.

March 23, 2012 4:51 pm
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  • Going The Distance
  • By: Bill Conti
  • Rocky - Original Motion Picture Score
  • 69 Plays

Artist: Bill Conti
Album: Rocky - Original Motion Picture Score
Released: 1976
Label: United Artists
Choice Song: Going the Distance

HIS: Like any kid my age I have a deep-rooted connection to the Rocky movies and the inimitable music Bill Conti created for them so it never seemed odd to me that sometimes in the morning I play the Rocky soundtrack. You know, pump myself up, get myself ready. Whatever. These songs gets me going. Now I say it never seemed odd, but that doesn’t mean I would ever have told anyone about this habit. Until of course I took a drive to Asheville, North Carolina with my cousin and the keeper of this blog. My cousin and I are very, very close. Despite our near-decade difference in age (he’s older), he and I have been close friends pretty much since I was born and though he now lives in Texas, we remain close to this day. So of course when he told me he was traveling from New York to Asheville for an art show (he’s an artist by trade, traveling around the country selling his artwork at galleries and fairs and festivals) me and the girlfriend decided to hop in the van and tag along. Now, despite my lifetime of rock and rollin’, I am not a late-night person. If I can be asleep by 10 and up by 7 I’m psyched. My cousin, on the other hand, has always been a night owl. So we left town around 7pm and hit the road, 13 hours of highway ahead of us. Cousin driving, me shotgun, girlfriend in the backseat. I think I lasted until midnight. Then out. Like a light. I slept for the next ten or so hours, occasionally waking up to ask cousin, “Hey man you ok? You need me to drive?” before immediately falling back asleep. I woke for good around 7am. We were deep into Tennessee and about two hours from Asheville. Cousin’s eyes were visibly drooping and he was fading fast. “Dude. Why don’t you let me drive the rest of the way?” He assured me he’d make it, so long as he could play the Rocky soundtrack to get him through the home stretch.

HERS: Before I played sports, I was a silent shy tomboy who wore umbro shorts and baggy tee shirts. A bra if my mom could get a hold of me long enough. In addition to team sports, I ran a lot. Still do. But as a teenager, I would lug around any necessary piece of equipment that would allow me to listen to music along said run. We’re talking enormous disc men that skipped with every step and bulky “sports” walkmen — including the one that was my sisters’s that I dropped down the gutter in a rainstorm —sorry! I obsessively made running mixtapes, strategically planning out which song would play when and at what mile I’d need it most. These mixes would include songs like Van Halen’s , “Right Now!” or “Jump!” There was definitely “Stairway to Heaven” and “Born to Run.” Obvious classics. I think I even included the Superman movie theme. But nothing compared to anything ROCKY! With my mom being from Philly, we’d always run the museum steps and raise our hands. And before any sports game, my dad would always “bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom!!” me from my house to the car. Rocky music is genius. It immediately represents any underdog who ever attempted to get ahead. Anyone who ever tried to make a comeback or last minute rally. Anyone who wanted to go from nobody to somebody. It was this kind of music that helped me crack that shell of mine and become a strong power chick, both on and off the field. Because if Rocky can do it, hell, so can we! AAADRRRIIIEEEENNNNNNEE!!!!!

February 29, 2012 1:15 pm
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  • Rotten Smokes
  • By: The Everymen (featuring Kurt Vile)
  • Hello, Nice Evening. We Are The Everymen
  • 20 Plays

Artist: The Everymen 
Album: Hello, Nice Evening. We are The Everymen.
Released: 2011
Label: State Capital
Choice Song: Rotten Smokes (featuring Kurt Vile)

HIS: Y
ea yea yea. You can call this shameless self-promotion but I’m not going to. And I’m not going to because this blog has yet to reach the worldwide stature that it will soon reach and I’m pretty sure that anyone reading this blog (and especially reading this blog on the regular) already knows I play in this band. So there. Deal with it. But I figured it was a good record to cover since I’m going into the studio tomorrow to mix our debut full-length. It’s going to be called New Jersey Hardcore and I’m fucking terrified of it. Terrified because a part of me thinks that it’s the record I’ve been waiting my whole life to make and I hope it lives up to my own internal expectations. What do I mean by that? I mean that I’ve been playing in bands for more than fifteen years. I’ve toured all over the fucking place playing to packed halls and (more often) playing to less than ten people. But in all those years I never really felt like I was being honest with myself. I would write songs and play in bands and make records that had some sort of genre-defined, preconceived sound. I was in a “punk rock” band or an “indie rock” band or an “art rock” band and those parameters were all rigidly defined. But when I started writing songs as The Everymen, I didn’t want any of that. I wanted to be honest and write the songs that I had to write, no matter what they sounded like. But then I started writing. And I started thinking that the songs were too simple and everything about it was very whatever. After a brief period of abandonment, I had somewhat of a revelation. “Who gives a fuck how simple these songs are? Who cares if they’re all in the same fucking key, using the same fucking chords? I sat down to write some songs and I let whatever was to come out of me come out.” And The Everymen are the result. So here were are, two years into the life of the band and while we haven’t sold out any clubs or haven’t done any big time touring, I can say that this is by far the most successful band I’ve ever played in and the road ahead of us is paved with beautiful expectations and exciting unknowns. It’s weird what honesty will bring out of you.

HERS:
I’m attracted to guys with serious passion. And not the telemundo type rose petal passion you’re thinking of. We’re talking life passions. Aspirations. Hobbies. Pastimes. But sometimes those passions turn into obsessions of a weird variety and you find yourself dating terrible terrible artists most of the time. With a few manic photographers, addicted gamers, anime freaks and sneaker-a-haulics mixed in there to keep it interesting. Soon you find yourself crossing off “passionate” on your PRO list and replacing it with “someone who moderately likes stuff.” But then those guys are boring. And soon you find yourself right back with the terrible terrible artists. It’s a vicious cycle. Until I met this guy. This man of many records. It took a while for him to even tell me the name of this band he’d only mentioned a few times, which is rare in the dangerous genre of “band douches.” Usually when dealing with this type, you ask how their day was and they respond, “I’m in a band.” Or you ask how something looks on you and they somehow twist their answer to circle back to, “I’m in a band.” Red wine or white? “I’m in a band.” Got it. Hey, are you in a band? But this wasn’t the case at all. He seemed almost shy about being the front man of a band he created and writes all the music for. But I’ve been lucky enough to watch him put his heart and soul into his music, his literal blood, sweat and tears into his live shows, and everything he’s got for the chance to share music that makes people dance around and have a good time. And I’ve realized his type of passion is in a category all its own. He’s not so much wearing the passion as much as it’s driving him. Sure his love of music, making it and sharing it comes naturally. But it’s his drive and dedication to hard work and the inability to do it any other way than the right way that I find downright irresistible. That’s the passion I’m talking about. He’s not in a band to tell people he is. Or to be some made up idea of what a rock star is that doesn’t really exist. He’s in a band because he loves to rock. And he loves to share those moments with other people who love to rock. No matter where he is on the bill he gets there to see the very first band. He stays until the end. He carries everyone’s equipment. He books other bands who book his. He gives away more records than he sells. He just wants people to hear the music. Any way they can. To boogie to it. To have a good time. His band will rock the earplugs out of your years, but at the same time he’s humble, even shy on stage. And that’s how you know it’s pure. To me your passion isn’t what you show on the outside, but what’s driving you on the inside. It’s about more than just the band. It reveals a lens into who you are. What you stand for. It’s pure. And it’s a passion that I think seriously rocks.

**And oh yeah, the band is actually really good. This also rarely happens.