This post is music-related, so it’s going to stand in for Friday Finds this week. The excellent news is that I found out how to get music from my library at home onto my new phone. Oh sure, it’s so simple that actual blocks of concrete can do it, but the point is I never did it with my old phones, so I had to ask the Internet how to do it.
Of course, I have 13,000 tracks sitting in my music library, and picking the subset to transfer over is a time-consuming process. But I need them there to be able to make ringtones from them, so I’ll make the sacrifice. I’m so brave, I know.
Oh hey, I haven’t told my erstwhile compatriots yet, but I’m thinking of rebooting The Coffee Thing this weekend. I should probably tell them, huh? I just want a reason to visit Bad Wolf again before it goes away at the end of the summer.
via Wire’s 14th Album Proves It: This Is One of the Best Bands Ever | Observer.
I cannot argue with the Observer here. I have been a Wire fan since college, back in the last Ice Age. During the reading period before finals, our college radio station ran “orgies”–blocks of programming dedicated entirely to a single composer or band–and I remember pulling an all-nighter writing a paper during a Wire orgy. “Three Girl Rhumba” is permanently etched in neural channels in my brain as a result. (I have a clip of the opening to that song that I use as a ringtone on occasion.)
So I was not surprised that the band’s latest album was good. What I didn’t necessarily expect was that it would be great. This release, more than 2011’s Red Bark Tree, is a sonic callback to the earliest albums, with strong doses of Pink Flag (1977) and Chairs Missing (1978). (The band’s 2013 release, Change Becomes Us, is also a reflection of the early days, but that is to be expected, as the songs on that one were unreleased tracks from 1979-80.)
Through the liquid flow of bass and keyboards, Colin Newman’s vocals take on a slightly muted tone, as if burbling up out of a well. The lyrics are tuned to modern life – the lead-off track, “Blogging,” is a sharp look at our mobile (as in device) culture – but the sounds are classic Wire. The band’s line-up is not the same as it was 35 years ago, but the music is a solid return to the original sensibility that struck such a chord in me back then.
Actually, this week has been a bear–literally, a large Alaskan grizzly, or perhaps a Kodiak bear*–so I have not had time to engage in any of the music discovery that I would normally report on here. So for this week, I will just put up this video of some little English band of yesteryear singing a little ditty I have been learning on bass. (For such a simple song, it’s a pretty complex bass line. Not difficult, necessarily, but deeper than you might expect.)
Next week, maybe something new and previously unheard…
*Please don’t write in to complain. The management is aware that a Kodiak bear is the same as an Alaskan grizzly.
Bass cover of “Young Americans” by David Bowie.
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This is from one of my favorite YouTube musicians, iamRottenRon. Don’t know who the guy is, or even what he looks like, but he covers great music and shows how he plays it. His bass work is fantastic for me to watch and learn from.
It has been a long time since I’ve done one of these, but I found this song in the SXSW 2012 Showcasing Artists collection and I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO IT. The bass line is simple (which means I can figure out how to play it) but compelling, and the beat is infectious. The lead vocalist sounds uncannily like Robyn Hitchcock, and combined with the spacy/trippy lyrics (“I was living the life of a wrecking ball, swinging dangerously low at everything in sight”), it makes me think this is what The Soft Boys would have sounded like with a horn section.
The John Steel Singers is (are?) from Australia. Wikipedia calls them a “6-piece band,” but it looks like there are only five of them. Whatever. They’ve been around since the late 2000’s, with a couple of EP’s and LP’s. This track is off their 2010 album Tangalooma, their first issued on the Dew Process label (home of Dropkick Murphys and Mumford & Sons, among others). From their Facebook page, it appears they’re on the verge of releasing another album pretty soon.
(Side note: I’m listening through Tangalooma right now, and so far, none of the other tracks sounds anything like Robyn Hitchcock. Slightly disappointed about that, but I’m enjoying the album anyway.)