Friday, August 21, 2009

Review: Kohl's radio


In an effort to have more posts in a single calendar month since the frigid, truncated month of February, I present to you, the hypothetical reader, an in-depth analysis of the music played at the department store known as Kohl's.

Exactly. What?

Re: Absurdity and obscurity of this post, consider me a recently-liberated employee of the reasonably-priced clothing store. Having just finished my last day before my next endeavor (i.e., studying abroad in Italy. i.e., if humanly possible, even less updates than now!), I couldn't help but reflect on the music that the store selectively played.

Perhaps a slice of unimportant minutiae for some (read: typical) employees, also consider me an atypical employee. I took careful notice of the music every day I was forced into this working establishment. It really wasn't all that careful of notice, however, since the store recycles its songs essentially every day, just in some different order. Y'know, to keep shit fresh, yo.

YES, THAT MEANS I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HEAR NICKELBACK EVERY TIME I WORKED! Better yet, because of the seemingly randomized nature of the playlist, it was always such a pleasant surprise to hear Chad's dulcet tones out of the blue. Indeed, a breath of fresh air from all of the other shit.

Of course, I jest, I could never take a Nickelback joke quite that far. As expected for a family-oriented, PG-rated, well-established department store like Kohl's, all of the songs are inoffensive and relatively tame in both musical and lyrical nature. God forbid they offend any of their dedicated clientele, which could accurately be summed up as a majority of "middle-aged housewives in varying shapes and sizes." Alas, that means none of Nickelback's better cuts, like "Animals" or their more recent couldn't-be-more-obvious sexual romp "Something In Your Mouth", were played ad nauseum. It was more along the lines of their "attempt to be crossover and adult contemporary."

Think for a second. Nickelback, who can't even do their main genre any justice whatsoever, attempting to do adult contemporary. Let that sink in. Then, realize I had to hear one or two of these gems every fucking day. If you couldn't tell, I don't like them all that much.

Moving on, because God knows I could blab about those Canadians forever (they don't even have flappy heads, the assholes.) To sum up so far, yes, they played a share of generic, throwaway adult contempo shit that truly was forgettable and unnoticeable. I think it's a requirement. Can't have music that distracts the precious customer from the pseudo-deals over which they're salivating.

Although debatable, I'm not entirely a cynical asshole. There actually were some bright spots in the redundant radio. There were a few tolerable '90s jams, for one. Sugar Ray's breakthrough hit "Fly" could be heard in the store. Unfortunately, it was the utterly neutered version without Super Cat. Is a quasi-rapping black dude too offensive for Kohl's? Like, really? I guess this version is actually on the studio album, but I had never heard it before. Again, "neutered" really sums up the track well. As does flaccid. Other '90s songs making the presitigious Kohl's cut were Matchbox 20's ubiquitous "3 a.m.", No Doubt's "Just A Girl", Barenaked Ladies' magnum opus "One Week", and OMC's "How Bizarre." That last one there. What a treat.

In general, though, most of the songs were relatively recent, and a couple were actually solid. One of my favorite songs of 2009, "Daniel" by Bat For Lashes, for whatever fucking reason, infiltrated the monotony of Kohl's radio and truly and quite literally was a bright spot, considering the job and other songs. My Morning Jacket's "Thank You Too" was there too, but to be honest, it's not their best song by any means, and upon first hearing it, I did a double-take, thinking it was just another shitty AM radio classic. "Walking on a Dream", by Empire of the Sun, a random song I don't mind, is also there, and totally out of place, as well.

It's been shot, castrated and ripped apart for a few years now, but Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" is too classic to say it sucks, and clearly one of the best songs in Kohl's rotation. A brain dead DJ could think of "Crazy", but "Daniel"? Baffling, I really wish I knew the qualifications for songs played there.

A trifecta of Coldplay songs made its way to the Kohl's radio waves: "Yellow", "Viva La (fucking) Vida" and surprisingly "Life in Technicolor II". Like Gnarls, Coldplay is an obvious safe bet. "Life in Technicolor II" was certainly a pleasant surprise and choice among the Coldplay songs. The good news: Weezer is on there, too. The disappointing news: It's "Island in the Sun". I have absolutely nothing wrong with it. But, Jesus, could you imagine "We Are All On Drugs"? Although, considering the no-balls version of "Fly" eluded to earlier, it would probably be the awful music video edit.

In order to pass time (ahem), I utilized one of my favorite discoveries of the year: Verizon's Song ID app. It's a totally free application and it is free to use, and it tells you the title, artist and album of a song playing at any given moment. Impressively, it picked up the songs from the Bose speakers overhead, so I could put a name to the songs I loathed so much.

In reality, I discovered three songs worth illegally downloading from the cyclical song list, and two of them are borderline "well, they're not awful" choices (Ben Lee and Jem). The third is pretty legit and another head-scratcher, Iggy Pop's "The Passenger", from all the way back in 1977, much more elderly than anything else being spun.

Then, there was Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry", essentially negating any positives that could have been ascertained.

To wrap this bullshit up, for every halfway decent song, there were about four bad-to-awful ones, and even the decent songs that you'd look forward to among the sea of horseshit would start to deteriorate in quality because you'd hear them every fucking day.

I do not anticipate ever returning to Kohl's as an employee, unless it is to specifically hijack their satellite radio. So concludes my mind-numbingly excruciating analysis on the most bogglingly random topic about which a music blog could babble. Sorry to waste your time. We return you to your regularly-scheduled hiatus, already in progress.

/Breaking the fourth wall in every post like it's my job


Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Weezer Album Gets Name

Raditude. Seriously ... Raditude. I don't know whats harder to believe, the fact that Weezer actually decided that Raditude was a solid title or the fact that they got the title from the dude who plays Dwight on The Office. Probably the first one.

Anyways, even when considering the album title and the Red Album, I gotta admit that I'm kinda lookin forward to their quasi-anticipated seventh offering. The reason being their new single "(If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To." Once again, awkward title but all-in-all the track is a pretty solid pop song. In my mind, quite a bit better than anything off of Make Believe. Check it.

The ridiculously named album should be makin' waves, for good-or-worse, on October 27th.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let The Jean Creaming Commence: Them Crooked Vultures

Supergroups are nothing new. Every year some dudes from some bands get together and release some shit under a new moniker, and lah-dee-fucking-dah. Some are run-of-the-mill, a few are solid, but very few actually live up to the lofty expectations placed upon them to indeed be a "supergroup."

Hopefully there will soon be a new addition to the illustrious, latter-most classification. Consider this savory recipe for a potentially awesome supergroup:

1 part Dave Grohl on drums
1 part Josh Homme on guitar and vocals
1 part John Paul Jones on bass and keyboard
2 parts utter mysteriousness
1 dash of unclassifiable bad-ass machismo awesomeness

Certainly makes the mouth water. All three of these men have done more than enough to solidify themselves in the annals of rock history, but they are embarking on a project hoping that the end result is better than the sum of its parts. Ladies and gentlemen, Them Crooked Vultures.

At this point, almost nothing is known about Vultures. They performed live together for the first time August 9th at Metro Chicago in Illinois, playing a dozen songs featuring titles such as "New Fang," "Scumbag Blues," "Gunman," "Caligulove," and "Nobody Loves Me." Prejudging music solely on titles is absolutely insane, but is almost required considering the circumstances (I can't wait to hear how "Scumbag Blues" translates, for one.) The last of these selected titles is being carefully teased by the band on YouTube, and is pretty much the only musical evidence of the band's existence, unless of course you were one of the few lucky individuals at the show.

I don't think this needs to really be explained much further. Just look at the fucking guys in this band and the near-infinite potential that could be tapped for this project. Christ, don't let us down. In the meantime, give the rabid fanbase something with which to whet their collective appetite. 14 seconds on YouTube isn't even long enough to get blue balls, let alone full-blown jean creamery.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Death of an Icon

On Thursday, August 13, Les Paul passed away at the age of 94 due to ongoing complications with pneumonia. As the inventor of the solid body electric guitar and multitrack recording, Paul basically helped bring about rock n' roll as we know today.

Since childhood, Paul found himself deeply interested in the world of music but believed that power and dynamic were somewhat unattainable with unamplified instruments. Artistically and emotionally, he recognized that a musician could only go so far with an acoustic guitar in hand. This is what brought about the creation of "The Log," a 4x4 piece of wood (which acted as a bridge and guitar neck), strung with steel strings, and attributed with a pickup. This invention gave way to the progression of the electric guitar as well as rock in general.

So how influential was Les Paul? Well, without him, the music of Gilmour, Townshend, Page, Clapton, and countless others would either be non-existant or completely unrecognizable.
In short, the world of rock would have stayed a shell of itself for quite a bit longer without the likes of this iconic pioneer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PSA: How The Hell'd We Wind Up Like This?

30 million albums sold worldwide.

Nearly 30 million plays and over 1 million unique listeners on

Four multi-platinum albums in the United States.

Second-best selling foreign act in the United States this decade behind only The Beatles.

These are just some of the startling statistics backing the Canadian generic rockers Nickelback.

Meanwhile, many bands with an actual capacity for talent and ability, like dredg and Portugal. The Man, are barely getting by on these once-prized characteristics.

It is utterly deflating to juxtapose these two situations, but it is the sad, sad truth.

However, you, yes you, can help.

Do your part. Stop listening to shitty, manufactured mainstream music and God-awful excuses for rock like Nickelback. With internet piracy fast replacing the compact disc, at the very least steal their music and watch pirated footage of their concerts. Better yet, subscribe to a twelve-step program to swear off of Nickelback and the like for good. You will be doing yourself and other hard-working bands a great service.

No one likes to see douche bags like Chad Kroeger succeed. If you do, you must be a terrorist. You’re not a terrorist, are you?

This is a public service announcement urgently brought to you in part by Cassette Musique.

Friday, August 7, 2009

W T(wilight) F

I watched Twilight last night.  I heard so much trash talk going on regarding this book/film--including Stephen King insulting the book's author, Stephenie Meyer--that I was compelled to download part of it online.  Let me just say, the first half hour section was priceless.  Improper grammar within a hopeless script, godawful acting, horrendous overdone camera panning... I was laughing the whole way through.
What trumped all the other awful aspects of this movie were the songs they chose to play.  In my mind, I hear[d] all of this music.  And it [broke] my heart.  And it [broke] my hea-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-art (sry 4 copyright infringement Regina Spector, I needed your help for dramatic effect...).
Strike one, pun intended (huhuh, cause they're playing baseball when this song plays... get it?!/1);
Muse-Supermassive Black Hole.
Alright, this song was extremely repetitive and got old quickly.  It was also pretty obnoxious to those who had to deal with it during its incessant radio debut.  (Replace all the Kings of Leon songs you hear on the radio now with that one; you'll have a pretty good idea of what stations played it and how much).  Regardless, I didn't think it's appropriate for a tween/pre-teen/teenage girl chick flick.  It offered a rather badass backdrop, that would have perfectly complemented an exciting scene.  Somehow, though, the ten mile hits and running vampires weren't really that cool.  

Iron & Wine-Flightless Bird, American Mouth
Sam Beam, epic beard, epic skills.  Iron & Wine, excellent music.
However, WHAT THE HELL?  There are better songs by Iron & Wine!  There are worse bands to defile!  There are better songs for a prom!
I mean, shit, I'd have loved to hear a good Iron & Wine song at prom.  "Upward Over the Mountain" would have probably depressed the hell out of my date, but that song is awesome.  More applicably, "The Sea and the Rhythm" would have been neat, albeit a little fast for a slow dance, but "Flightless Bird, American Mouth," why?
Would it have been danceable?  Well, the initial tempo would have been accurate enough for a slow dance, but that only lasted for about a minute.  The tempo picked up after that point, and--were it real life--dancers would have been stuck in the awkward "do I dance fast or slow to this?" state.  It has a syncopated rhythm, too, which would have complicated dancing.  Anyone who has been to a high school dance in the last ten years knows that todays youth aren't particularly skilled dancers.  So, uh, no.  It wouldn't have been danceable.  Why the hell would you have played it at a dance, then?  Whoever was the DJ for the Fork's (main setting of Twilight) prom must have lacked foresight.
There was no reason to taint Iron & Wine by putting this song in Twilight, other than a half-baked attempt at being cool by playing indie music.  They should have played Cindy Lauper or some shit.

Radiohead- 15 Steps.
Thom Yorke is very talented.  Radiohead has been becoming more popular.  He earns his popularity, props.  Seriously, almost everything he puts out has some value to it.  Make no mistake, he can still be criticized for a few things, like his generally simple guitar playing.  Minor characteristics aside, he's a solid artist.
It was one of the most perfect feelings in the world hearing "Black Swan" at the end of the film A Scanner Darkly.  The ending of Twilight had the complete opposite effect.  
Other than the near constant level of how horrible the movie was, it was dynamic. 15 Steps had no reason to play.  "How could I end up where I started."  Um, What?  In the beginning of the movie Bella was a hot chick talking to herself outside her home in Phoenix.  At the end, she was dancing with a stalker vampire to a nonsensical Iron & Wine song at prom a few nights after dismembering a dude named James and burning his pieces in a bonfire in the center of a dance studio.  ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE AT THE BEGINNING AGAIN?!
When this song played, contrasted by "Black Swan" at the end of "A Scanner Darkly" it was as if to say "This moment be really f@&*ing awesome if this movie was any good."The credits might just be interesting enough to stare at until this is over."
When the credits started, my feelings on this matter were obviously supported as Ryan and I looked at each other wide-eyed and yelled "WHATTHEFUCK NO!!!" We proceeded to turn the TV off as quickly as we could.  We joked about cutting the DVD up into little pieces and burning them like they do to bad vampires in the movie.  It wasn't funny.  We didn't laugh.

What legitimate fan of these bands likes when a mass of people are all in love with one mediocre song by a group with much more to offer, on sole account that they were in a sparking vampire movie?  Twilight is using it's mainstream fangs to suck the world dry of the good music like a sparkly sex offender vampire whose personal brand of heroin is indie music (and Muse).
See ya, I have to go cry.  This stirred up too much emotion.
Keep reading and don't forget to keep checking.
Hold tight until next time... spider monkeys.

PS; I found this comment online regarding "Flightless Bird, American Mouth."  I thought it was worth reading.
"I think this song is absolutely beautiful. I play it constantly. I picture the dance that Bella and Edward share with with all the poison and torture that Edward feels as he is pulling her closer to him as he kisses her so softly with all of his heart Didnt care about the lyrics, because I didnt understand the meaning behind them. The melody is just to beautiful to resist. But with all of the explanations that I have read, I really believe it is up for each listener's interpretation. It makes sense. That makes it even more "special"."