31 May 2013

31 May 2013 - Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity

Remember when this song was everywhere? I do.  And I love this funky sound.

But let's talk for a minute about this video.  Let's talk about the video.   How the hell did the furniture and, for that matter, Jamiroquai, move like that?  Answer - the only stationary part of the room was the floor.  The room itself moved around.  The set was built on wheels over an undetailed floor.  The sofas were sometimes bolted to the wall, until they needed to move, and then they were unbolted.  Remarkably simple.

But back to the funky sound.  The song itself is heavily jazz influenced, much like the rest of the band's sound.  That's right.  I said band.  Jay Kay is the singer for Jamiroquai.  He is NOT Jamiroquai.  In fact, the rest of the band appears in the video, in the corridor scene.



In this live version of the song, you can hear a heavier jazz influence, complete with scat.  It's good to see that, on stage, the song sounds as good as it does in studio.

30 May 2013

30 May 2013 - OneRepublic - If I Lose Myself

Last night, OneRepublic singer and songwriter to the stars Ryan Tedder (a native Oklahoman) performed Counting Stars off his band's latest album Native for the inspiring Healing in the Heartland Relief Concert. To be honest, I really didn't know too much about his band beyond Secrets and Apologize (that last one I know more for Taylor Swift covering it on her live album). I certainly liked what I saw and plan on checking out some more of his band's songs (FYI for those who still pay for their music, Native is only $3.99 at Amazon right now). Here's the video for Native's first single.

29 May 2013

29 May 2013 - Tegan and Sara - Walking With A Ghost

Raise your hand if you thought this was actually originally a White Stripes song.  I admit it - I did.

And this isn't the first time you've seen Tegan and Sara on this blog, either.  Back then, I compared them to Simon & Garfunkel, and I stand by that comparison.  And I also said that despite that, and despite the lyrically brilliant songwriting, they still felt like a guilty pleasure.  I stand by that statement as well.

You're going back to look and see if I really said those things.  I did.

Now, I really do love the White Stripes version of this song.  It's well done.  This version is far less bombastic, but brings a different ache to the song.

And yes, Scott, it's a better version - are you happy now?!



As a bonus, here it is with three guitars.  It's a richer sound, and yet more stripped down.

28 May 2013

28 May 2013 - Ian McCulloch - Candleland

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but when Ian McCulloch's solo debut came out in 1989 I liked it better than his previous work with Echo and the Bunnymen. While I still enjoy hearing Candleland every so often, I have to say I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It happens. Still though, I think Ian's solo albums were pretty solid, yet surprisingly overlooked. Here's the video for Candleland which features backing vocals by Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.

24 May 2013

24 May 2013 - Suzanne Vega - Blood Makes Noise

So, what happens when a really good folkie turns her back on folk music and tries her hand at electronic music?

Pretty good, interesting electronic music.   Suzanne went with a mechanical sound and a Metropolis feel to the video, but lyrically, it's as deep as anything she did as a folkie.



Since this time, Ms. Vega has, of course, returned to folkier ways.  Here is a live version of this song, more punky and less electronic, but still interesting.  This performance is from SxSW 2010.  Note how bass-heavy, and not electronic, this song is.  And yet it works well still.



Finally, here is a minimalist version of the song.  As a gift to my co-blogger Scott, it is preceded by a live version of her song from the "Pretty In Pink" soundtrack, "Left of Center". (See, Scott - I read your posts!)

23 May 2013

23 May 2013 - Public Image Ltd - Rise

Here's a slice of 80s Thursday goodness with Johnny Rotten's post Sex Pistols band Public Image Ltd. This one was off their 5th record, 1986's Album/Cassette/Compact Disc (the title depended on the format which I always thought was a cool concept).

22 May 2013

22 May 2013 - Mr. Oizo - Analog Worms Attack / Analog Worms Sequel

What the hell is an analog worm, you ask?

A Worm is an analog musical effects processor.  More on that in a minute.

This minimalist song, from the 1999 debut by Quentin Dupieux, is not his best known song.  But it does have the coolest audio effects I have heard on any song.  His simple but noisy work has been an influence on electronic music all these years later.

The song - in fact, the whole album - was recorded exclusively on analog, and not digital equipment.  This is noteworthy.  He got these sounds (with the help of scratch DJ friend Feadz) without computers or digital manipulation.



The reinvention of this song, "Analog Worms Sequel", which is essentially the same track without vocals, scratching, and slightly different instrumentation, was the official close to this album.  ("Flat Beat", which was a huge hit in the UK, was a bonus track that appeared after five minutes of silence).  Again, analog.




21 May 2013

21 May 2013 - Icona Pop (featuring Charli XCX) - I Love It

I Love It is an effervescent and defiant electro-pop thrill-ride by Swedish DJ duo Icona Pop. I heard it for the first time a couple weeks at the Taylor Swift concert (it was part of her intro music). Judging by crowd's over-enthusiastic response, I think I may have been the only one who hadn't heard it before (apparently, I live in a cave). Anyway, I'm sort of surprised Tony hasn't covered this one before as this one's the definition of a Wicked Guilty Pleasure. (I'm sure he was "planning to" and he'll message me later today saying as much). Love it!

20 May 2013

20 May 2013 - M - Pop Musik

New York.  London.  Paris.  Munich?!

Munich.

This 1979 single, one of the first big synth pop songs ever released, was an early definer of what would be the MTV sound for several years.  M, a project by Robin Scott, performed this song as a way to bridge rock and disco.  There was a huge generation gap when it came to music, with disco being the contemporary sound after rock and roll had dominated for so long.  But, really, it was all just pop music.



Of course, you remember this much-parodied video featuring Scott as a DJ and an extremely whitewashed look.  So, go ahead and enjoy your MTV nostalgia.

17 May 2013

17 May 2013 - Barenaked Ladies - Pinch Me

OK, OK, long time readers will know that we've featured these guys before. They deserve more than one post, though.  They bring an awful lot of enjoyment with their music.

This song, which was a minor hit for them - not their biggest, but their 2nd biggest - and was Grammy nominated, sounds like it should be a lot of fun.  But it isn't.  It's the story of someone who is struggling to get out of bed, who just wants to get away.  It's brilliantly done, and for some reason, it resonates with me today.

16 May 2013

16 May 2013 - The Mighty Lemon Drops - Inside Out

Wow. It's almost like I'm trying to make 80s Thursdays here at Wicked Guilty Pleasures somewhat respectable. Last week we had an early single by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and this week I have probably the biggest hit by The Mighty Lemon Drops. Sure they are Echo and the Bunnymenesque, but is that necessarily a bad thing? I think not. A few years back I was able to "upgrade" my old Mighty Lemon Drops tapes to CDs through a long gone CD trading site. I was pretty lucky considering those cds were long out-of-print. I do see that they are now available again which is a good thing. If you miss that old late 80s, early 90s alternative sound, I strongly suggest checking those discs out.

15 May 2013

15 May 2013 - The White Stripes - The Denial Twist & The Hardest Button To Button

I know my co-writer Scott would never, ever, ever write about the White Stripes.  He isn't a fan.  This is quite possibly our biggest musical disagreement, because I am a big fan.  Of course, I am a big fan of duos of all kinds - I've featured several of them on this blog.

This is my favorite song by them.  It's full of raw emotion and tells a great story.  And, with just a piano and drums, they make a lot of beautiful noise.



Here's an early great tune by the duo.  Jack went with guitar on this song, which is the right choice.  His multi-instrumental prowess are part of what made this band great.  The story of this song, though, is the bad-ass drumming by Meg White, who doesn't get enough credit for what she did with that group.  Truly, one of the greatest drummers I have ever heard.

Also, Jack has my hair from 1989.

14 May 2013

14 May 2013 - Demi Lovato - Heart Attack

This site IS called Wicked Guilty Pleasures. X Factor judge Demi Lovato has a new record (Demi) out today. I think y'all can put 2 and 2 together. Here's her latest video. Not bad, but it's no Skyscraper.

13 May 2013

13 May 2013 - Alan Parsons Project - Don't Answer Me

Let's forget about the song for a minute.  This video, which is clearly very Dick Tracy comic-inspired, is among the most beautiful ones I've ever seen. And Nick gets the girl in the end.  What more can you ask?!  So, before we talk about the music, let's enjoy the video.


The song itself, though, is not at all happy.  It's angry and depressed and sarcastic in the first verse.  The second verse keeps the anger and depression, but the sarcasm is replaced with hope.  I was always impressed with the way Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson kept the story going so far forward in such a short song.  And, let's be honest - music hadn't seen this much orchestral-style layering since Phil Spector!

10 May 2013

10 May 2013 - Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love

It's almost the weekend, so I thought we needed a fun song.  What better fun song than this classic, performed by a side project of the Talking Heads?  Enjoy one of the most sampled songs in history.

09 May 2013

9 May 2013 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - True Men Don't Kill Coyotes

I'm going to move away from the typical 80s Thursdays cheese today and instead present you with a video from the self-titled Red Hot Chili Peppers debut from 1984 (I suppose some of you will say it's an entirely different kind of 80s cheese). Hard to believe they've been around for almost 30 years. I wasn't too sure about their first couple records when I first heard them (shortly after Mother's Milk came out). I eventually came around (many years later). I doubt I'll ever say the same about their last two albums.

08 May 2013

8 May 2013 - Kate Bush - Cloudbusting (with a Neil Halstead bonus)

Here in the Rochester, NY, area, where I write this blog, we sit today, with a thickening cloud cover and corresponding barometric pressure that I am quite positive is causing pain for many with nerve or joint issues today.

Thankfully, I am not one of those sufferers.

But, for them, perhaps Wilhelm Reich's research on his farm, Orgonon, would help open the skies.  Kate Bush's song, loosely based on Peter Reich's book - he was Wilhelm's son - is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to not only rainmaking, but a close relationship between father (played in this video by Donald Sutherland) and son (played by... well, Kate Bush).



As a bonus, here is Neil Halstead's fantastic cover of the song, re-imagined as a lullaby.

07 May 2013

7 May 2013 - Michael Penn - No Myth

I saw Michael Penn a few years back when he was touring for his fantastic Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 record. Much like his better half Aimee Mann, he's a tremendous storyteller and performer. He's also very funny too, especially when he introduced this song -- surprisingly not called "Romeo in Black Jeans."

06 May 2013

6 May 2013 (Part II) - The Darling Buds - Burst

So, while planning for Darling Buds Day 2014 - because, you know, this is a thing now - I will be petitioning to make this a national holiday in Wales - I started to worry.  What if I had found their only two videos?

I need not have worried.  We're so set for years to come that I felt it safe to post a SECOND video.  Whereas this and this were from their second album, the classic Crawdaddy, this one is from their debut, Pop Said.... The sound is slightly different - less pop, more rock - but three things are clear.

1. Their record label was hellbent on marketing them as a rock band with a blonde female lead vocalist.
2. Said blonde lead vocalist - Andrea Lewis - was really charismatic without showing too much boob (something that I would not say about Wendy James of Transvision Vamp, who was marketed the same way).  In fact, she was kind of modest.
3. This band is full of great musicians.

This song is fast-paced and will give you whiplash, much like most of their first album.  Probably why I love it so much.

6 May 2013 - The Darling Buds - Crystal Clear

I am thinking of making May 6th Darling Buds Day. After all, last May 6th, I posted a video of theirs under the Guilt-Free Sunday hashtag.

This song gets no such hashtag.  In fact, this was the song - and video - in which the Darling Buds had the exact opposite reaction to being lumped in with all the other vaguely rock-and-roll alternativesque British bands led by blonde lead vocalists - c'mon, I've told you about this before.  They ran right toward it.  They got poppier, less dark, and tried to be mainstream.  This pursuit led to the band's implosion, but that's another story.

As far as this song, from the great Crawdaddy album.... well, it's just poppy fun, and there's nothing wrong with that.  The video is a little odd, but hey. So, enjoy it.

05 May 2013

5 de Mayo 2013 (Special Edition) - Liz Phair - Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico in the state of Puebla to celebrate the 5 May 1862 victory of the Mexican over the French in the Battle of Puebla.  It is not widely celebrated in Mexico outside of American tourist traps, and is not a Mexican federal holiday. So, let's celebrate the little-known Mexican holiday that is propped up by American retailers of Mexican beer by enjoying this jangle-pop classic, not about the battle of Puebla, but about a fizzled love, by Liz Phair.




03 May 2013

3 May 2013 - Soul Asylum - Can't Even Tell

At one point in my life, I was a really big fan of Soul Asylum.  Hang Time was a fantastic album.  Fantastic.

Then they followed up that album with ....And The Horse They Rode In On.  Which wasn't all that good and was the beginning of the commercial success that would lead to me not being able to stand them.

Then came 1994.  The album I consider to be their comeback - Let Your Dim Light Shine - was still a year in the future.  Kevin Smith made a little movie called Clerks and commissioned Soul Asylum to do the song for the closing credits.

The result?  A nihilistic song about seizing the day that was an instant classic.  I've been a fan ever since.

02 May 2013

2 May 2013 - The Soup Dragons - Divine Thing

I honestly can't remember the last time I put on Hotwired (or Lovegod for that matter) by The Soup Dragons. We used to listen to those albums all the time in college (I'm dating myself again here aren't I?). Heck, I actually saw them twice on their tour with James in 1992. Or was it 1993? It doesn't matter. It was a whole lot of fun . . . as is this video.

01 May 2013

1 May 2013 - The Breeders - Cannonball / Safari

For most of you, this was your first and only meeting with The Breeders.   Which is all well and good.  It was a great song - still is.  It is a modern rock classic, with a great double guitar, a  very distinctive bassline by the under-appreciated Josephine Wiggs, and a catchy vocal by Kim Deal.


For me, it was a letdown.  I knew what they had been less than a year prior.

The Breeders were a modern rock supergroup, featuring the aforementioned Kim Deal (of The Pixies), Jo Wiggs (of The Perfect Disaster), and the woefully under-appreciated guitarist Tanya Donelly (at this point, of Throwing Muses).  Their first album, Pod, was a very dark, sparsely-produced (by Steve Albini) classic.  After that album, Kim's twin sister, Kelley, joined on guitar.  And, for one EP - Safari - they all stayed together.  And they rocked and rocked hard.



After the Safari EP, Tanya left to form Belly.  And her absence was noted by people who were in the know. I mean, don't get me wrong - The Breeders were still really good.  They just weren't the same band.  The band even went on to re-record one of the Safari songs for the Last Splash album - "Do You Love Me Now?" - and it was good..... but a little bit of a letdown.