Friday, March 18, 2011

Why the Jukebox Matters

Matchbox Lounge, March 3, 2011 - 11:20pm

    First of all, they have a couple of Ween albums - one of which is "12 Golden Country Greats", so I can tell this jukebox was put together by someone willing to say "fuck off" to the faint of heart.
    But I'm not in the mood for "Help Me Scrape the Mucus Off My Brain" tonight.
Instead, from this small - but varietal jukebox, I'm going to pick 4 songs. The following:
2. Rolling Stones  -  "Tumbling Dice"
3. Brian Eno  -  "Here Come The Warm Jets"
4. Sonic Youth  -  "Teen Age Riot"

    You can tell a lot about a bar by its jukebox.
    The particular type of bar I like will usually have a jukebox that has its share of 90's rock music and old punk albums from the late 70's; with a third of the selections being straight-forward pop albums that most everyone recognizes, (i.e. the first Van Halen album, or an Oasis album, etc.)...
    The rest will be the harder to find classic albums from various eras, and a few oddball music-snob choices, (i.e. Pavement's "Wowee Zowee", or David Bowie's "Lodger", etc.)...
    As far as the decor... It doesn't matter a whole lot to me. Most places can have a dive-bar element to them that I can appreciate. But, (having said that), there is a fine line between a "dive-bar element" and actually just being a dive-bar.
    It seems that beers on tap are a good way to distinguish which side of the line you're on. I mean, we live in Portland - and if your only choices are Miller, Budweiser, PBR, and, (at it's most exotic), Widmer Hefeweizen - then it should be pretty clear where you are.
    Back to the jukebox....
    The idea of having a jukebox with a limited amount of selection is enticing to me. And here is why it's better than bars who have a digital downloading jukebox device, (or whatever the hell you would call it).
The ability to pull up any damn song you like and have it blast all over the establishment has a major downside. If I'm in a bar that I enjoy, (with it's dive-bar element), the last thing I want to hear is a Lady Gaga song or, (God forbid), anything by Kenny Chesney. Not only would that type of music not fit in with the "essence", (if you will), of the bar - it some cases it can actually be aurally offensive to music aficionados...
    A place like the Matchbox Lounge works well on multiple levels, but the jukebox shows that someone, (maybe the owner, maybe the bartender, who knows?), has sat down and taken the time to make musical selections that mean something.
    Whereas, the internet-connected, digital jukebox will never have that kind of soul.
    So, maybe I'm a bit pissy, and old-fashioned about this... But if I'm going to go out and get a drink, I need a place that has some care put into it. I want a place with a list of drinks that are all individually named after the titles of Buzzcocks songs from "Singles Going Steady" - where Motorhead plays over the room.
    I want a place I can remember.... Cause otherwise, what's the point of going out and getting a drink?

Song Of The Week:

    Now, while there are a huge amount of other Stranglers songs that would qualify, this song is still amazing. It doesn't have any inclination towards the new-wavey punk stuff these guys were doing in their previous albums, (the song "Peaches" comes to mind). But I think that makes it all the better.
    Yes, it's quite possibly about heroin.
    Yes, it's in 3/4.
    Yes, the first time I heard it was in a movie in 2001. Which means I was only 20 years late in appreciating it. So, listen to it now, so you don't make the same mistake.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thoughts Vaguely Referring to Baroque Pop (or) A Review

    First of all, in order to read this blog, you will need to go to the following link:
   We'll see you back here in about four minutes and sixteen seconds...

    I rarely buy anything off of iTunes, instead preferring to buy hard copy versions of albums I like, and then import them into my iTunes. Why? That's a long story for a different blog.
Suffice to say, I've bought maybe 2 albums off iTunes over the past few years. But yesterday, I bought the new 3-song EP by Foster The People.
    Though I enjoy trying to find old albums, (and even old Blur singles - in order to gather a collection of b-sides), I didn't feel like putting in the time to find a 3-song EP in CD format.
...(besides, this band has a full-length due out in May, of which I can pick up a copy then)...
    Anyway, I bought it because I'd heard the single "Pumped Up Kicks" on the radio, (which is kind of a rarity for me to even listen to the radio). But I happened to catch this song and got hooked on it.
    So let me tell you what I like about this song. First of all, it has a strange baroque-pop feel to it. Case in point, the heavily-reverbed vocals during the chorus and the bassline that drives the song. The tone on the bass guitar part has a definite late-60's sound to it, (i.e. listen to an old Byrds album and hear how the high-end on the bass notes seems to punch through the mix more).
    These traits are really similar to the song "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn, and John, and let us not forget the use of whistling notable in both of these songs. ....(As a sidenote, if you're only familiar with the "Young Folks" song from Peter, Bjorn, and John, then you should do a bit more research on them - they've done some truly cool things with simplistic song ideas, sparse arrangements, and straight-forward dance beats. Just goes to show that Sweden is good for other things , not just IKEA, ABBA, and metal bands)....
    Which brings me to my next point: This is basically indie-dance music, as far as I can tell. The other two songs, ("Houdini" and "Helena Beat"), on the EP solidify this sentiment.
    For those of you disappointed by MGMT's last album and hoping for more synth-pop music, you may find something to like in this band, in that their sound has more in common with "Kids" and "Electric Feel" than any of the other songs off of MGMT's "Congratulations"....(although I still stand by the fact that "Congratulations" was one of the best albums of last year)....
    In reality, this EP isn't going to change the world musically. It's not some boundary-pushing sound, it's just good pop music that you can groove to. It's hard to say if their full-length will live up to the EP, but in today's digital environment, it doesn't really matter. Most people buy individual songs rather than whole albums anyway. Which brings me to the idea of singles and their impact on popular music...
    But that too, is for another blog... Maybe next month...