Watched Tribute Acts: Harmless Fun or Musical Scourge by an author from Pitchfork Videos
It’s a music business truth that the past is never dead. From ABBA The Concert to Dread Zeppelin, cover bands and tribute acts reunite the broken up, and reenact the great performances of yesteryear again and again with uncanny fidelity. Are these bands just good, clean fun, or are they the eager to please equivalent of junk television?
Replied to |k| clippings: 2018-11-26 — it helps to press send by an author (Katexic Clippings)
A conversation last night reminded me that I am unrepentant about (most of) my 80s rock listening…then and now. Michelle Kwan’s cover of “Sweet Child o’Mine” on a guzheng nails not just the iconic song, but one of the era’s best solos. Also: a worthy cover by bluegrass musicians Thunder and Rain & Postmodern Jukebox doin’ it New Orleans style & Scary Pockets makin’ it funky & a wistful version by Taken by Trees.
Thank you for sharing the different covers. It is an intriguing collection.

Where jazz has its standards, it feels that the (post)modern standards are songs we have ingrained in our memory to a point where we apprehend every bend and squeal, even if it is not performed.

It is interesting to think of these songs in association with algorithms and the choice of what is played and performed. Has nostalgia replaced originality or is all music copied as people like Chilly Gonzales demonstrate.

Here I am again reminded of a comment from William Gibson:

Listened Strange Little Girls - Wikipedia by an author from Wikipedia
Strange Little Girls is a concept album released by singer-songwriter Tori Amos in 2001. The album's 12 tracks are covers of songs written and originally performed by men, reinterpreted by Amos from a female's point of view. Amos created female personae for each track (one song featured twins) and was photographed as each, with makeup done by Kevyn Aucoin. In the United States the album was issued with four alternative covers depicting Amos as the characters singing "Happiness Is a Warm Gun", "Strange Little Girl", "Time," and "Raining Blood". A fifth cover of the "I Don't Like Mondays" character was also issued in the UK and other territories. Text accompanying the photos and songs was written by novelist Neil Gaiman. The complete short stories in which this text appears can be found in Gaiman's 2006 collection Fragile Things.
These reimaginings by Tori Amos are somewhat uncanny. Unlike other covers, such as Mark Ronson’s Just, where there is a respect to the original structure and sound, Amos reimagines just about every facet of the songs in question. It is easy to listen to many of these tracks and not necessarily recognise the original track.
Listened Review: Muse Get Lost in the Eighties on ‘Simulation Theory’ by an author from Rolling Stone
There are some pretty creative uses of their electronic obsessions, however, and that’s reliably becoming one of Muse’s more interesting moves. Though maybe too close to at least two different George Michael songs, “Dig Down,” has a very cool, wubbing, minimal feel and a bravado mix of poptronic pulse and theatrical bombast. And despite its completely ridiculous lyrics and Rush “Roll the Bones” rap vocal effects, “Propaganda” is a excellently weird song: think Prince getting a Swizz Beatz makeover with a steel guitar solo. Basically, where Muse, one of our last huge rock bands, is at their best and smartest is when they’re not being a rock band at all.
I love the idea of Muse taking on the eighties, but something just does not seem to click. It is interesting that they engaged with the likes of Timbaland, but musically and thematically it is a little confusing. I think Christopher Weingarten captures this best:

Most of Simulation Theory could be about our surveillance state and/or a relationship. The blurring results in clunkiness.

I am sure that live it would be a stadium spectacular, as it has many of the usual licks and baselines, but as an album it was short of what I hoped for.


On the flipside, I was really intrigued by the ‘alternative reality’ versions of a few of the songs. Along with Snow Patrol, Kimbra and St. Vincent, this seems to be becoming something of a trend? I wonder if this is a part of the move to digital consumption, therefore providing more opportunities for different takes?

Bookmarked Chilly Gonzales breaks down the essence of music by Cian Traynor (Huck Magazine)
Wearing a pale blue short-sleeved shirt, dark pants and white trainers, he immediately introduces himself as Jason. It feels like a subtle way of drawing a line between the persona of Chilly Gonzales – a wild-eyed ‘musical genius’ who wears a robe and slippers on stage, like a Bond villain enjoying some downtime – and Jason Beck, a mild-mannered music nerd born in Montreal back in 1972.
Whether it be his version of Daft Punk’s Too Long or contribution to Jamie Lidell’s work, I have always been fascinated with the work of Chilly Gonzales, long before I even knew who Chilly Gonzales was. This article from Cian Traynor provides an insight into the thoughts and actions behind the man. If you have not experienced the ‘genius’ before, I highlight recommend his masterclasses:

via Austin Kleon

Marginalia

Maybe changing attention spans are leading to new ways of listening but there are always going to be interesting artists who are able to see opportunities within that.

I sort of feel like, ‘Well, 10 million autotune fans can’t be wrong. Let me see if I can understand what’s happening here, what the aesthetics are.’ And if I spend enough time on it, I generally find some musical value
The fundamentals of musical storytelling are always going to be there: tension and release, fantasy and reality, sparseness versus denseness. These are the things that music has always been about, whichever culture or era you’re in. They’re still there. Everything gets flattened or compressed more, but that was already happening from the romantic era to the impressionist era

If you can steal without getting caught, then you’ve pulled off the perfect crime – which is what an artist is supposed to do. You’re not meant to come up with new things as an artist; no artist would say that’s what they do. It’s all about taking your influences and hopefully filtering them through a personal viewpoint

I’m all about letting the listener decide who fucked up and who was able to steal with finesse, you know? I mean maybe it’s different if you’re a struggling musician working your crappy day-job and you feel like some giant artist is profiting off something you did; I can imagine there’s a lot of emotional frustration there

Listened St. Vincent Details ‘Masseduction’ Redux LP ‘MassEducation’ by Kory Grow from Rolling Stone
When Annie Clark was mixing last year’s critically acclaimed Masseduction, she cut another version of the same album that she’s since dubbed MassEducation. The reworked LP, which will come out on October 12th, features only her on vocals and Thomas Bartlett on piano. She described the record in a statement as “two dear friends playing songs together with the kind of secret understanding one can only get through endless nights in New York City.”
I loved MassEduction, but the rawness of just voice and piano in this version of the album takes the music to a whole new level for me.
Played by an author

If you listen to the first few seconds of Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” (hint: listen to the Cardi B remix) you’ll hear a sound that immediately creates a sense of 80s hip-hop nostalgia. Yes, Cardi B’s flow is very Roxanne Shante, but the sound that drives that nostalgia home isn’t actually from the 1980s.

Robert Fink and the inventor of the Fairlight CMI, Peter Vogel, help me tell the story of the orchestra hit – a sound that was first heard in 1910 at the Paris Opera where the famed 20th century Russian composer Stravinsky debuted his first hit, The Firebird.

The video above is, in short, a history of the original orchestra hit sample from The Firebird Suite to the 1982 hit “Planet Rock” to “Finesse.” And as a treat, here’s a playlist of way more songs with orchestra hits than you probably wanted.

Bookmarked Susan Sontag: At the Same Time (review) (Radio National)

"To tell a story is to say: this is the important story. It is to reduce the spread and simultaneity of everything to something linear, a path.

To be a moral human being is to pay, be obliged to pay, certain kinds of attention.

When we make moral judgments, we are not just saying that this is better than that. Even more fundamentally, we are saying that this is more important than that. It is to order the overwhelming spread and simultaneity of everything, at the price of ignoring or turning our backs on most of what is happening in the world.

The nature of moral judgments depends on our capacity for paying attention — a capacity that, inevitably, has its limits but whose limits can be stretched.

But perhaps the beginning of wisdom, and humility, is to acknowledge, and bow one’s head, before the thought, the devastating thought, of the simultaneity of everything, and the incapacity of our moral understanding — which is also the understanding of the novelist — to take this in."

In an extract from At the Same Time, Susan Sontag discusses storytelling and the art of leaving things out. I wonder if the same could be said of music? For example, in a documentary reflecting on U2’s album The Joshua Tree, Brian Eno demonstrates through the mixing board how they would could have mimicked Depeche Mode. Or maybe music too is simply a form of storytelling?

via Brainpickings

Listened Cook Cut Damage Destroy by Prop from undercovermusic.com.au
Cook Cut Damage Destroy

Over a year in the making, this album is more than just a collection of remixes... it's a diverse, yet cohesive collection of collaborative electronica. The album features the fusion of Prop's marimba and vibraphone section with cut up electronica and dubbed out glitchy rhythms, experimental looping and for the first time in prop's life... vocals.

I loved Prop’s album and was always fascinated how of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes transitioned from the blended soundscapes to the pumping tunes that they write as The Presets. This compilation provides some insight. It is made up of a series of remixes from artists all over the world, including the Presets.

Different from Gotye’s Mixed Blood album or Jack Antonoff’s Terrible Thrills series which are more traditional covers, this album is something of a reimagining. Not only are the sounds different, but often the original structure is also thrown out. This is made because of the absence of any vocals guiding the original tracks.

I never knew it existed and am glad a stumbled upon it as I looked for tracks on Google Music.