The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - “Simple and Sure”
It’s interesting that even though there are essentially no commercial outlets for music videos, the videos are now more creative and fun to watch than ever. Here’s a song off of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s recent LP, Days of Abandon. They open for The New Pornographers tonight in San Diego and I’ll be there!
Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam pay tribute to Isaiah “Ikey” Owens by playing Light Years at their show in Detroit. Recently Owens played keyboards for Jack White's touring band The Buzzards. Before that he was a member of The Mars Volta and did session work for groups such as: TV On the Radio, The Aquabats and Mastadon. Owens passed away on Oct. 14th after a sudden heart attack.
I have always enjoyed listening to covers - not only is it fun to hear one artist’s interpretation of another, but I find it interesting to see what songs and artists they choose to cover. From these choices we can learn who their influences are and what kinds of music they listen to.
Here’s St. Vincent doing “She is Beyond Good and Evil” by avant-garde post-punkers The Pop Group (who were anything but pop!). This 2011 performance was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and was in support of her then new LP, Strange Mercy - because of course it makes perfect sense to play a cover of a relatively obscure British band rather than a single off your own new record!!
Here’s a live-in-the-studio version of the first song off of the Cincinnati, OH band’s excellent new album Attica! Of course this is not a cover of the Who’s famous song - since there is no Who song with this title (it’s “Baba O’Reilly”). Wussy is a throwback to the glory days of late 80’s-early 90’s college/indie/alt rock though they aren’t remotely derivative and their sound is too expansive and varied for them to be hemmed in by one genre.
This song features the group’s 3 guitar attack (lead, rhythm and pedal steel) and is a slow burning, melodic and ultimately fierce ode to why we care so much about music, bands and songs. With lyrics like, “Do you remember the moment you finally did something about it? When the kick of the drum lined up with the beat of your heart?”, Lisa Walker reminds us what it was like to find a song that we feel in our core. Like the kids of 1971 must have felt the first time they heard “Baba O’Reilly”.
I was out of town and couldn’t go to this concert, so here’s a guest review by my daughter minneral!
Wye Oak - San Diego - July 9, 2014
Last time I saw Wye Oak, I didn’t really know anything about them, just that we had heard their song “Civilian” and wanted to check them out. Between then and now, they’ve become one of my favorite groups, so it was a very different experience seeing them on Wednesday at the Belly Up, playing with the Philadelphia duo Pattern is Movement.
Because I’m now familiar with Wye Oak’s songs, it was clear how strong their live performance is. Jenn Wasner alternated between two guitars, a bass, and a keyboard throughout the set, and drummer Andy Stack took a few turns at the keyboard, too. They started out strong with the first three songs off their excellent new album Shriek. After that they played a mix of old and new songs; I was particularly impressed with “The Tower,” “Holy Holy,” and my current favorite, the floaty, melodic “Shriek.”
Wasner’s vocals really give their music a unique character that keeps it fresh and exciting, and although there seems to be a St. Vincent-esque influence in the new album (and I even saw Wasner throw in a jerky head tilt at one point), Wye Oak still makes the style their own. They finished off, of course, with “Civilian,” leaving me reflecting on how that one song had brought me to such an amazing group.
Who is this terrific guy writing such a great review? I need to read more of your reviews. You are a lot like me, almost the same age, huge Queen fan and in awe of Adam Lambert's song renditions. I agree that we need to hear these great songs live by a great singer since we can't have our Freddie. I think he'd want the show to go on. I saw the show in Chicago and I'm going to Detroit. I must see this again.
Thank you anon for the kind words. I am just an avid music fan, record collector and concert goer. I follow a lot of artists in a variety of genres - but through it all Queen has always been my favorite group. Keep coming back - there’s plenty of new music out there for us old guys!
Queen + Adam Lambert at the LA Forum – July 3, 2014
I was 13 years old in 1973 when my parents bought me an AM/FM radio. I used to stay up for hours listening to the hits of the day: Elton John (“Crocodile Rock”), Grand Funk Railroad (“We’re An American Band”), Edgar Winter Group (“Frankenstein”), Carly Simon (“You’re So Vain”), George Harrison (“Give Me Love”), Albert Hammond (“It Never Rains in California”) and many, many more. I recall being a fan of practically anything that was played, from the folk rock of Gordon Lightfoot and Simon & Garfunkel, to the early funk of War and Ohio Players, to the pop of Three Dog Night and Harry Nilsson. I would listen to “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues and “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.
Sometime during the next year I joined the Columbia Record Club, which was a great way to discover new music when you weren’t old enough to drive to the record store. Every month I received a catalog and chose records from a variety of genres. I remember getting records (and 8-tracks!) by groups like Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears and Cat Stevens.
And then it happened - Queen IIwas released. I had never heard of Queen but the album cover got my attention so I ordered it. About a week later the record arrived and I remember thinking how cool the cover was with the group in black on the outside of the gate-fold and in white on the inside. This band, and that album in particular sent me diving head first into the realm of arena rock and it would be a long time before I would come up for air. It was all about KISS, Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, UFO, Aerosmith etc etc. Since the day it arrived Queen II has been my favorite album. This record is equally melodic, dark, angelic, vicious, grandiose and really, really heavy. Queen was massively popular throughout the mid-70’s through the late 80’s, but most of those fans would be surprised to hear how menacing and pummeling this record was.