Posts Tagged ‘dresden dolls’

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Michael Gira at Tractor Tavern, Seattle

March 4, 2009

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Michael Gira is playing at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard tonight. While Gira’s bands, Angels of Light and the Swans (who I usually describe as ‘the band that makes Sonic Youth look like commercial sellouts’), are pretty well-known in their own right, he may be best known for bringing Devendra Banhart and Akron/Family to the masses, via his label, Young God Records.

I saw Gira play a few years ago (with Banhart and the Dresden Dolls), and I asked him about the story behind my favourite Swans song, “God Damn the Sun.” It’s a narrative about being left by his lover and learning that his best friend was found “face down in the street, with a bottle in your hand, and a wide smile on your face, and a knife in your back.” It turns out that he did write it about a particular friend who, however, was still alive and well (and none too pleased about his fictional demise).

If you are at all prone to depression or self-pity, you may not want to listen to this song; I’d prefer not to be responsible for a rash of z=z-related suicides. Cheerfully optimistic people only, please.

MP3: Swans – God Damn the Sun [buy]

[photo credit: Anne Helmond]

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$99 Music Videos

February 25, 2009

$99 Music Videos hopes to occupy the space between fan-created videos and traditional music videos. The brainchild of Next New Networks, the rules are simple: the video has to be made for less than $99, it has to be shot in one day, it has to be edited in one day and—this is where it’s really differentiated from fan videos—it has to be made with the collaboration of the band. The idea is to bring together emerging bands with enthusiastic filmmakers: the band gets a video, the filmmaker gets exposure, and Next New Networks gets its cut via the (occasionally intrusive) advertising. Every video has a companion making-of video, in which the creators get to document how they worked within the constraints (here’s the one for La Strada’s “The Sun Song” video, above); for someone who’s interested in how things tick, they might be more interesting than the videos themselves.

Want to make your own? Go find a band you like, or a fan who’s up for shooting a video, get five twenties out of an ATM, and submit your own video here.

Wired has a longer interview with the site creators here.

MP3: La Strada – The Sun Song

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Threesome: “I liked them better before.”

February 9, 2009

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So, if you are music geek to any degree, at some point you’ve found yourself saying (or at least thinking) some variation on “I liked them before they were cool.” (“I liked their first album better.” “I saw them play this little club.” The permutations are endless.)

I heard a recent Modest Mouse song the other day, and it made me think about how much more I liked their early stuff, and why that would be. So here’s an argument for why it’s not just musical elitism: The early stuff – the first music that you heard by a given artist – is what you chose. It’s the music that spoke to you, that resonated with you in some way that led you to pluck it from the sounds around it and hold it close to your heart. The later music, on the other hand, is presented to you. (“It’s the new album by X.”) It doesn’t have to elevate itself from the background noise in the same way that the first music that you heard by the artist did. So, while it’s great when you like a band more and more as they release new music, that’s unlikely to be the norm.

In defense of the elitism aspect, though, sometimes artists make conscious decisions to be more accessible, musically or lyrically. For example, in the Dresden Dolls‘ first EP, A is for Accident, the live version of “Coin-Operated Boy,” contains the line, “I can’t even fuck him in the ass.” It was later changed, in their debut self-titled album, to the considerably more radio-friendly “I can’t even take him in the bath.” It’s hard to fault them for this, and I still love the new version, but I do prefer the uncompromised former version.

If you do happen to be a die-hard musical elitist, who stops listening to bands entirely once they go mainstream, may I recommend the lovely Diesel Sweeties t-shirt or hoody pictured above? (rstevens has a bunch of other cool music geek shirts, if that one is a bit too abrasive for you).

MP3: Spoon – Small Stakes [from Kill the Moonlight, 2002]

MP3: Modest Mouse – Tiny Cities Made of Ashes [from The Moon & Antarctica, 2000]

MP3: Death Cab for Cutie – Amputations [from Something About Airplanes, 1998]

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Threesome: Back in Boston, briefly

December 5, 2008

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Regular readers know that zed equals zee temporarily relocated its headquarters from Boston to Seattle this summer. Well, debcha is back in Boston for the week, and here are some songs commemorating her adopted hometown. First up is a terrific live version of “The Ice of Boston” by the late, lamented Dismemberment Plan. Next up is the Dropkick Murphys doing “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” with lyrics by Woody Guthrie. It’s off their 2005 album The Warrior’s Code, but you may have heard it on the soundtrack to The Departed. Finally, the Dresden Dolls‘ unassumingly titled “The Jeep Song,” from their self-titled first album, is a hilarious and painful tale of a black-Jeep-driving lost love on the streets of Boston.

MP3: Dismemberment Plan – Ice of Boston (live)

MP3: Dropkick Murphys – I’m Shipping Up to Boston [amazon]

MP3: The Dresden Dolls – The Jeep Song [amazon]

Image: Flying Into Boston 005 – Tilt Shift by Flickr user tostie14, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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Coverage: Amanda Palmer, “I Google You”

August 20, 2008

I’m still fairly thrilled that one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, is collaborating with one of my favourite Boston artists, Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls). Palmer’s solo CD, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, is scheduled for release in early September. A companion book of photographs is in preparation, and Gaiman is contributing the text (a set of short stories). Gaiman also wrote the lyrics to “I Google You” (video above); however, this is actually a cover, not a collaboration, as the words were originally written for folk/lounge singer Peri Lyons.

Gaiman also posted the lyrics:

I Google you
late at night when I don’t know what to do
I find photos
you’ve forgotten
you were in
put up by your friends

I Google you
when the day is done and everything is through
I read your journal
that you kept
that month in France
I’ve watched you dance

And I’m pleased your name is practically unique
it’s only you and
a would-be PhD in Chesapeake
who writes papers on
the structure of the sun
I’ve read each one

I know that I
should let you fade
but there’s that box
and there’s your name
somehow it never makes the pain
grow less or fade or disappear
I think that I should save my soul and
I should crawl back in my hole
But it’s too easy just to fold
and type your name again
I fear
I google you
Whenever I’m alone and feeling blue
And each scrap of information
That I gather
says you’ve got somebody new
And it really shouldn’t matter
ought to blow up my computer
but instead….
I google you

More: Amanda Palmer; Neil Gaiman

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Poor concert etiquette, illustrated

July 9, 2008

Guest blogger Scott, who’s familiar with my preferences regarding singing at concerts, says:

This isn’t necessarily a great cover, but it’s one of the best illustrations imaginable (short of a performer actually stopping and berating someone, which would be awesome) of why you don’t sing from the audience. Everyone is basically behaving themselves, except for one guy, who drunkenly sings along (and then mis-sings along) at the quietest parts of the song.

MP3: The Dresden Dolls – Karma Police [Radiohead cover]

Previously: Concert etiquette: miss debcha speaks; Listen local: The Dresden Dolls

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Threesome: alchemical transformations

June 30, 2008

Following up on our previous post, here are three heavy metal covers done right. Arab Strap (pictured above) do a version of “You Shook Me All Night Long” which should erase any memory of Celine Dion’s butchery. And as promised, here’s Emm Gryner’s quiet, piano-based version of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”  Finally, the Dresden Dolls dusted off Black Sabbath’s 1970 anti-Vietnam-War anthem,  “War Pigs,” for their live shows:

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

MP3: Arab Strap – You Shook Me All Night Long (more Arab Strap)

MP3: Emm Gryner – Crazy Train (more Emm Gryner)

MP3: The Dresden Dolls – War Pigs (live) (more Dresden Dolls)