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Album Cover Art

[Via Forever Blog]

Pop will eat itself,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
Really.

Man, it’s been a rough month for famous pop-culture icons and rock musicians. But I guess this kind of thing is inevitable, of course, and sooner or later the casualties are going to start piling up.

Anyway, I have a few things to say about Kantner, and specifically Jefferson Airplane/Starship:

1. Thanks to AOR hits like “Jane” and “Stranger”, I was aware of Jefferson Starship before I was aware of Jefferson Airplane. Consequently, the first time I ever came across a Jefferson Airplane album – a hits comp called The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane – I thought they were either a parody band making fun of Jefferson Starship, or Jefferson Starship making fun of themselves. I blame Nashville FM radio and MTV for this.

2. Eventually of course I discovered Jefferson Airplane and “White Rabbit” and “Volunteers” and all that. I would argue that Jefferson Airplane has held up better than Jefferson Starship in the long term. That said, I still have a soft spot for “Stranger”. I’ve always liked that primal sounding drumbeat. 

The video is a bit naff, mind.



3. Kantner had nothing to do with Starship, the 80s version of the band. Which is nice to know because I never cared for Starship sans Jefferson. Granted, the 80s weren’t kind to very many rock bands that originated in the 60s or 70s. Still, I could go the rest of my life without hearing “We Built This City” or “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”.

Got to revolution,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)


[Via Welcome To Little Bosnia]

Here’s what I got:



Not too bad.

Original image here.

And here’s the story of the actual Moby Prince Disaster.

Make some noise,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)


David Bowie is gone. And it hurts.

Which is saying something, because I don’t usually get that emotional over celebrity deaths, even when I’m a fan of their work. But when a co-worker broke the news to me after lunch, I found myself getting teary-eyed at various points for the rest of the day.

Obviously I’m a fan, so that’s part of it. Bowie is one of those music artists who has always been around in my lifetime and – during that time – consistently releasing new music that still seemed relevant, if only because Bowie was constantly changing not with the times so much as ahead of them. (Yes, the 80s weren’t good to Bowie, but they weren’t really good to anyone whose career started in the 60s or early 70s. And Let's Dance is a better album than you may remember.) 

But part of the shock comes from the fact that Bowie had just staged one of the great music comebacks with 2013’s The Next Day after ten years out of the public eye, during which fans speculated that he was too sick to perform. And up to the release of last week’s Blackstar, he seemed so invigorated and alive – only he was dying, and fans suspected nothing.

It’s kind of a typical Bowie sleight-of-hand – as if it was all part of his latest artistic statement. Which, according to Tony Visconti, is exactly what it was – a parting gift from a man who knew his time was almost up and was determined to make art out of it.

Much has been made of the video for “Lazarus” (which is also a song from the off-Broadway musical Bowie co-wrote which has been playing since last month) being an intentional farewell message. I’d add that it’s a masterstroke because the title suggests (to me) that he wasn’t just saying goodbye, but adding, “I’ll be back” – as if he’s just gone back to his home planet for an extended holiday.

Which is possible.



Anyway.

You’ve seen, read and heard all the tributes and his life story by now. It’s true. All of it. And where it’s not true, it doesn’t matter. “David Bowie” was always a persona – or a series of personas – for David Jones, and that’s close enough to the truth for me.

Here’s a few extra personalized nuggets:

1. The first Bowie song I remember hearing (and knowing it was David Bowie) was “Fame”.

2. Growing up, I knew his songs via the radio, MTV videos and SNL appearances, but I didn’t really get into Bowie’s back catalog until I was in the military and had the cashflow to buy lots of records. The first ones I bought were Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs. To this day they're my two favorite Bowie albums.

3. I never did get to see him perform live. I did have a copy of his Glass Spider concert video on VHS at some point, but that’s not really a good example.

4. I did get to see his museum exhibit, David Bowie Is, in Chicago in 2014. I was glad I went at the time. I’m even more glad now.

5. This is my office cubicle, now.



I put the pics up there last month. I got them from Mojo, who did a cover story on the new album + the story of making Scary Monsters.

Well, I could go on. But I’ll stop here. It’s sad that Bowie’s gone, but it’s great that he went out on a high note. (Or so I’m assuming. I bought a copy of Blackstar this afternoon during my lunch break. I’m pretty sure I’ll like it.)

Ashes to ashes,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
Music now. Films tomorrow.

This time last year, the main theme was how little music I found worth buying in 2014:

Maybe it was just a slow year. Or maybe I’ve finally become like my friends who have decided that all modern music sucks and the only good “new” music is old music you haven’t heard before. I’m not convinced of that. Then again, most “new” music I like is really either old bands who are still around or new bands looking to recreate old music.

Anyway, we’ll put the theory to the test in 2015.

We did. And the theory has legs, because 2015 was another relatively uninspiring year in terms of “must listen” music. I only bought 22 albums/EPs this year (a couple of which seemed like a good idea at the time but now make me lament the fact that there are no refunds on iTunes).

That’s not to say the 20 albums on this year’s list are shite. They all have their merits. But only about a third of them were genuinely exciting experiences for me.

So, like last year, this is more of a list of all the music I felt was worth spending money on in 2015 – or at least ones I could actually get copies of. There were a number of new releases I wanted to buy but couldn’t because they weren’t for sale out here in Hong Kong (even on iTunes), and I couldn’t find physical copies when I went to the US in October.

So that’s why new albums by Calexico and Tricot are missing, for example.

Anyway, here’s what I spent 2015 listening to.

DISCLAIMER: Based on music I actually bought/acquired/downloaded/streamed between December 2014 and November 2015, and therefore a useless metric for everyone else.

TOP 20 DEF LPs/EPs OF 2015

1. Public Service Broadcasting, The Race For Space (Test Card Recordings)
2. The Sonics, This is The Sonics (Revox)
3. John Carpenter, Lost Themes (Sacred Bones/Rodeo Suplex)
4. Algiers, Algiers (Matador)
5. Johnny Dowd, That's Your Wife On The Back Of My Horse (Mother Jinx)
6. FFS, FFS (Domino)
7. BadBadNotGood feat. Ghostface Killah, Sour Soul (Lex Records)
8. Violent Femmes, Happy New Year (Add It Up)
9. They Might Be Giants, Why? (Idlewild)
10. The Fall, Sub-Lingual Tablet (Cherry Red)
11. Los Plantronics, Surfing Times (Jansen Plateproduksjon)
12. Dog Party, Volume 4 (Asian Man)
13. Los Tiki Phantoms, Los Tiki Phantoms y El Misterio del Talismán (Discmedi)
14. Dave Cloud and the Gospel Of Power, Today Is The Day They Take Me Away (Fire Records)
15. Motörhead, Bad Magic (UDR)
16. Gwenno , Y Dydd Olaf (Heavenly/PIAS)
17. Rocket From The Tombs, Black Record (Fire Records)
18. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)
19. Dengue Fever, The Deepest Lake (Tuk Tuk)
20. The Mutants, Tokyo Nights (Killer Tracks)

Details, blah blah blah ... )

And there you are.

PRODUCTION NOTE: For long-time readers who actually keep up with this kind of thing, I decided to drop this year’s Pre-Show Awards due to a lack of compelling material, apart from the cover art, which I decided to work into the main list.

Tomorrow: the films!

Turning Japanese,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
In keeping with our general theme of optimism, we thought we’d kick off 2016 with this song intended to inspire positive thinking in the young people of today.

PRODUCTION TRIVIA: As it happens, most of the lyrics are 25 years old – I wrote a similar song for a music project called Buckwheat & Radishes back in the early 90s, inspired by a good friend of mine who made the general grammatical observation expressed in the song. It stuck with me, obviously – I don’t have the original lyrics written down anywhere, I just remembered the majority of them one day for no real reason.

The original music for the song was generic hardcore punk. We’ve updated it to suit the Banäna Deäthmüffins sound. And we’re proud of the results. In fact, we’re kinda hoping this wins a Grammy for the category of Best Attempt By A Song To Alter The Meaning Of A Word In The Urban Dictionary.

They still have that category, right?



================================================

LYRICS


When you have a bad day
Or someone makes you mad
You say this really sucks
But why is that so bad

If someone goes down on you
It makes you really happy
Why do you compare it
To a thing that’s really crappy

So let’s flip it on its head
Make somebody’s day
Accentuate the positive
Join me when I say:

It sucks and I’m happy
It sucks and that’s okay
It sucks and I don’t mind at all
Have a sucky day
Sucking is a good thing
With the proper attitude
It’s a new philosophy
To suck is always good

================================================

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Lyrics by dEFROG
Music by Banäna Deäthmüffins

©2016 Terribly Frog Music. Derechos Reservados!

======================================

Like this song? Why not down it and other fine lo-fi tracks from the official Banäna Deäthmüffins page on Soundcloud?

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Accentuate the positive,

This is dF

 
defrog: (Default)
You know that Lemmy is gone.

And it’s sad in the sense that really, it was a miracle he lived as long as he did. He wasn’t exactly in the same league as Keith Richards – no one is – but his reputation and his band Motörhead lent itself to the mythological and decidedly unhealthy Rawk lifestyle.

And yet Lemmy just kept on going to the point where you figured he was indestructible. According to legend, when he collapsed from dehydration during one show in 2005, his solution was to start adding ice to his Jack and Cokes. (Earlier this year, he switched from Jack Daniels and Coke to vodka and OJ for “health reasons”.) He certainly outlived at least two former bandmates.

Anyway, Lemmy was a true rock legend. Some people will point to his days in Hawkwind as the real highlight of his career. But to be honest I’ve never heard a Hawkwind record in my life. Motörhead was my first and only Lemmy experience (starting, obviously, with that guest slot on The Young Ones), and you have to admire the fact that he pretty much stayed true to his mission for 40+ years. For the last few Motörhead album releases, I’ve joked about how Motörhead has made a new Motörhead album that sounds like Motörhead – but really, there aren't many bands that can stick to more or less the same basic LOUD ROCK formula for four decades and still make it work (albeit with varying levels of quality).

Put another way, as standard as their rock blueprint may have been, you know when yr listening to a Motörhead album. They had their own sound, and Lemmy was a key reason why. He was like no one else in the business.

Also, he was mates with Samantha Fox.



That counts for a lot with me.

Anyway, let’s go with the obvious choice for the selected music video.



He knew how to die,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
We’re back, and by the wildest coincidence we have something kind of appropriate for the holiday season, what with everyone seemingly spending Christmas freaking out over the state of things, especially in the sociopolitical arena, and expressing it on Facebook in the form of fear and loathing and dithering in general.

This was written with a specific person in mind, but I think it applies to anyone so wrapped up in their little sociopolitical media bubble that all they ever talk about is how doomed the country is because The Other People are winning.

So here’s our holiday message to you:

Lighten up, man. It’s not as bad as you imagine. Have a little optimism for 2016 and relax, for cryin’ out loud.



Let's sing about optimism, kids! )

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Lyrics by dEFROG
Music by Banäna Deäthmüffins

©2015 Terribly Frog Music. Derechos Reservados!

======================================

Like this song? Why not down it and other fine lo-fi tracks from the official Banäna Deäthmüffins page on Soundcloud?

Also, be the first to like us on Facebook.

Bring me that horizon,

This is dF
defrog: (onoes)


[Via Kids Don’t Care]

PRODUCTION NOTE: For maximum enjoyment, you may watch the above GIF whilst playing this song:



No fucks given,

This is dF 
 
defrog: (Default)
Or, “Rocket From The Tombs is legend”.

In certain circles, anyway. RFTT is one of the few bands where people are more likely to be more familiar with the bands that it spawned after breaking up (Pere Ubu and Dead Boys) than the original band itself. RFTT Mk 1 had a rep for being a fiery force of nature onstage, and their original lifespan was so short and sharp that they never made it into a recording studio. Bootlegs of their live shows circulated for years until they finally got a proper release in 2002.

Since then, RFTT has reconvened in various forms for three studio albums, the third of which – Black Record – is out now.

I missed the first two, partly because I didn't hear about them, and also because I’m one of those people who knew Dead Boys and Pere Ubu more than RFTT. I’ve been hipped to the new one, and I have to say I like it.

I will say it’s a little disappointing in that David Thomas and Craig Bell are the only original members left, so the line-up is not quite as impressive as the previous album, which included Cheetah Chrome and Richard Lloyd. On the other hand, there’s a lot to like here, including a killer version of “Sonic Reducer” (which may be better known via Dead Boys, but it was originally an RFTT song).

I can’t say how all this holds up to the previously released stuff, but on its own merits it’s reasonably solid.

Listen to the single.



Going bad,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
It’s one of these two.





[Via Ryan Russell]

They’re the offspring of former Taking Back Sunday member Fred Mascherino, apparently. Can’t say I’m a fan of TBS. But these photos are great.

The kids are alright,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
I’ve always loved the idea of soundbites and dialogue samples in music, especially when they serve as the lyrics to a song. And if it’s NASA radio chatter, I just swoon.

So when I found out that the new album from Public Service Broadcasting – a UK duo that basically takes old documentary voiceovers and sets them to music – was centered on the 1960s space race between the US and Russia, I had to check it out.

I’d heard of Public Service Broadcasting before, but hadn’t paid much attention to them. They’re now my new favorite band, and The Race For Space is a contender for Album Of The Year.

Musically it’s a mix of electronica and rock, and while the music isn’t especially groundbreaking for the genre, it fits in perfectly with the documentary voiceovers. It’s sort of like a soundtrack for a documentary that doesn’t exist, only one that would take the kinds of chances that a real doc soundtrack wouldn’t take – like turning Russian propaganda about Yuri Gagarin into an Afro-Funk dance track, or turning a systems check into a call-and-response rock number.

Listen.



This probably isn't for everyone, but it pushes almost every nerd button in my head. I’m loving this.

Start the countdown,

This is dF 



 
defrog: (sars)


Hello.

Over the hill,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
ITEM [via Chart Attack]: A former K-Mart employee has uploaded 56 cassettes worth of K-Mart background music on the internets.



Here’s the October 1989 edition.


I listened to some of it. It’s a somewhat surreal experience, especially when the seeded store promos kick in.

I’m fascinated by stuff like this. Not the music itself so much as the packaging of it. I came across stuff similar to this in various music libraries of radio stations back when I was employed in the business – some on cassette, some on vinyl. We didn’t use them – they’d just never been thrown out. Or in the case of the cassettes, they were often reused for recording, but sometimes the original content was still there.

Anyway, as awful as the music is, it had a purpose – the songs weren’t chosen at random or slapped on in any order. The New Yorker has a pretty interesting tl;dr article about Musak (the former king of elevator music, defunct as of 2013) and the art of “audio architecture” here, if you want to know more.

Alternately, here's the abbreviated Mental Floss version

The soundtrack of our lives,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
And we’re back.

Actually we never went away, but aside from our day jobs eating into our studio time, we also ended up with a new laptop, which means we went from GarageBand 6 to GarageBand 10. And it had evidently evolved to the point of being unrecognizable, so it took awhile to figure out how to use it properly.

I don’t know if we succeeded on that score, but we do now have this song based on an obscure Internet meme we’d like to play for you.

Go like this.



And we sing together ... )

================================

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Lyrics by dEFROG
Music by Banäna Deäthmüffins

©2015 Terribly Frog Music. Derechos Reservados!

======================================

Like this song? Why not down it and other fine lo-fi tracks from the official Banäna Deäthmüffins page on Soundcloud?

Also, be the first to like us on Facebook.

PRODUCTION NOTE: The image comes from a performance art piece by Sandra Jogeva.

Don’t need no conjunctions,

This is dF


defrog: (sars)
Yr Chinese Rocks lede of the day:

That’s what happens when you give love a bad name.

Because the People’s Republic of China prefers wholesome, patriotic music. Like Bikini Kill.



[NOTE: Humor] 

As usual, the Culture Ministry won’t give any specific reason, mainly because they don’t have to. Rumor has it the reason has something to do with Bon Jovi once showing a photo of the Dalai Lama during a show five years ago. Which could be it, since the Chinese govt tends to equate the Dalai Lama with the likes of Osama bin Laden, Hitler and Vlad The Impaler – so much so that if you ever said anything about him anytime in yr life that was less than 100% furious condemnation, you could be arrested for trying to overthrow the govt.

Personally, I prefer to believe the reason Bon Jovi was banned was because he covered a Teresa Teng classic. In very bad Mandarin.

(Teng is highly revered round these parts, not least because she died young.)

Either way, I’m not that surprised. Culture Ministry censorship tends to veer between hardline ideology and sheer whimsy. Like when the Stones played Shanghai last year – the Ministry said no to “Honky Tonk Women”, but allowed “Street Fighting Man”.

Still, China has certainly come a long way since Wham!. I mean, it’s not like they’re only booking bands like Laibach.

Never say goodbye,

This is dF

 
defrog: (Default)
If you believe Gene Simmons, odds are it already has.



[Via Matt Fraction]

Date night,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
Band reunions seem to be an inevitable thing these days – possibly because there aren’t many “new” bands that are generating the same unique magic as bands that came together in the 60s, 70s and 80s, when the music business was a much different animal than what it is now.

Still, there are some bands you can’t imagine getting back together, if only because their split was so acrimonious. The Replacements come to mind. And also Violent Femmes.

Both bands have reunited in the last couple of years, although The ‘Mats have reportedly already broken up again (of course). The Femmes are still more or less together – Victor DeLorenzo did some reunion shows then quit, but Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie have managed to keep it together enough to actually record an EP, which came out on Record Store Day.

It’s called Happy New Year. And it’s pretty good.

Try the title track.



“Pretty good” is of course a relative term – the Femmes are one of those bands who made one of the greatest and most influential debut albums of all time, then spent the rest of their career in its shadow – possibly deliberately, since Gano and Ritchie have said in interviews that they’d had no interest in doing the same record again.

Is the new EP as good as “Blister In The Sun” or “Add It Up”? Probably not. Is it better than most of Why Do The Birds Sing? An argument could be made (depending on whether you think that album is underrated or not).

But it does feature that trademark mix of angst and dark humor that the Femmes are remembered for.

If nothing else, it sports the best album cover I’ve seen so far this year. And finally we have another good alt.new year song to turn to during the holidays.

Good for / at nothing,

This is dF

 
defrog: (Default)
Now that I’ve posted the Kiss 45s, the next logical question is:

“How about the Ace Frehley solo song? Bet you had that one too.”

Yes I did.



As history has recorded, everyone in Kiss released a solo album at the same time in 1978. I’m not sure of the exact reasons for this – supposedly their 1976 contract with Casablanca included four solo albums, which would count as half an album each towards their five-album deal, so I guess it was about maximum exposure.

To be honest, I’ve never listened to any of them, so I can’t really tell you how they measure up to each other and to Kiss’ back catalogue. I don’t think I really made the association between this song and Kiss until a little later. (I said I liked Kiss at the time – I didn't say I’d memorized all the names of the band members.)

It’s pretty well understood that Frehley’s solo album was the most successful in terms of chart singles and sales (though that depends on whether yr asking Gene Simmons or someone other than Gene Simmons). They’ve all been certified platinum, and by some accounts have sold at least as many copies as Love Gun. In any case, Frehley was the only one to have a hit single – which, interestingly, was a cover version of a song recorded by glam-rock also-rans Hello, and written by Russ Ballard.

Which makes it the third time Ballard has been represented in this series.

Here’s the original.



Obviously Frehley didn’t take too many liberties with the formula.

Here I am in this city with a fistful of dollars,

This is dF
 

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