For your consideration, I submit yet another song from my forthcoming album “Funeral Business.” “Heart On My Sleeve” is a moderately paced romantic dance rock song that I am very proud of. The lyrics were all true to my heart, written during a lonely time last year when I extra pathetic, giving it the double layer of heart broken authenticity. The music has that crunchy minor key harmonic wistfulness that I love, and the guitar solo by Andrew Lee soars and roars, but what else would you expect if you’ve been following along? Again, the stunning artwork was provided by Sonia Rapaport, including the sneak peak preview of the upcoming album art for the whole LP. I’m really excited about all this music and art I have laying around, just waiting to find its fans the world over. I hope you enjoy it. All the best, Willie.
Are you OK? Did you survive the wrath of Hurricane Sandy? Somehow, in the middle of Brooklyn, I managed to hold onto power, internet, and hot water, a real miracle. I had never heard more menacing and frightening winds ever in my life. It was quite the experience. Well, I hope you are fine, and I hope you’d like to hear some new music. I wrote “The Necrophiliac” a long time ago in 2006, and like many songs I made in that era, when I was still learning how to be a good musician, it sat on the shelf. I always loved the pulsating rhythm and manic harmonized vocals, so I dusted it off for a remake. Like a lot of my recent releases, it fits in perfectly with the spooky season of Halloween, and is PERFECT for all your dance parties. The beautiful artwork was provided by Sonia Rapaport, and if you’d like to see more of her brilliance, just click on her name there, and you can explore her wonderful online gallery. The incredible rough and rumble guitar solo in the middle of the song was provided by my great friend, Matt S., who moonlights as a wanna Keith Richards when he’s not affecting government policy down in DC. Much thanks to him and his VOX sound-station. So please, give a listen, I think you’ll like it, and lastly, I offer this one DISCLAIMER: The song “The Necrophiliac” was intended for artistic parody only. I do not support, endorse, or necrophilia or necrophiliacs of any kind. Having sex with dead things and corpses is horrible, and should never be attempted, or even thought about, may God have mercy on your soul.
One of the world’s most creative and innovate bands, Ween, has apparently ended. The band’s lead singer Aaron Freeman, otherwise known as Gene Ween, has announced the end of Ween in Rolling Stone. The breakup came as suprise to Mickey Melchiondo, Dean Ween, as he sent out this sad message on facebook.
Obviously it seems that the breakup is sudden and unplanned. Aaron noted that there is no bad blood, but rather its just a time to just close that chapter in his life. Is this really the end? Maybe officially, but probably not forever. I’m sure some reunion concert/reunion record will come down the road at some point. Whether that’s gonna be in 2 years, or 20, nobody knows right now, but its truly a sad day in the history of rock and roll. For Ween fans I have two videos. The first is a short documentary on the guys from 2000, and the second is Aaron Freeman playing “It’s Gonna be Alright,” an appropriately crushing ballad for the occasion. RIP Ween…
I was walking to my new office in Sheepshead Bay this morning when “Sea Ghost” by the Unicorns popped into my shuffle. As I was strolling down the dirty street towards my destination, I found myself hypnotized by the maritime swing rock of the nautically themed song. The guitar tone has that perfect garage band crunch, and the melody is both catchy and unpredictable. In short, its a perfect rock and roll song. The video below is some crazy fan made video of people running around in ghost costumes, miming the opening piccolo solo, and making merry times to one of the world’s greatest unknown songs. Check it out.
I was given the Unicorns’ album, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, way back in late 2004, and I still have not gotten over it. Since then, I’ve collected all the demos, music videos, Islands records, Clues records, and bootlegs possible, and am still hungry for more. The creative genius of Alden Penner, Nicholas Thorburn, and Jamie Thompson still resonate with me, all these years later. The Unicorns were a frightfully talented trio of Canadian rock perfection; an indie rock band that had ambitions of pop glory and transcendental coolness. The group’s lead singers and songwriters, Penner and Thorburn, formed a duo of talent and excellence rarely seen in rock and roll. Frankly, they reminded me of Lennon and McCartney. A bold and crazy comparison, but hey, they are that good. The future retro indie rock they made was beautiful, unpredictable, and inspired. The aesthetic construction of their group’s image was homespun, honest, and original. I hate that they broke up after only record, because these guys had a chemistry that played to their strengths. The future seemed unlimited. Anyway, here is their major music video, “Jellybones.” It’s fantastic and gorgeous, matching the songs brilliance. Enjoy.
The Kinks. I love them. I love Ray Davies, the writer of this song, “Autumn Almanac,” an absolute stunning piece of musical genius from 1967. A lot happened in 1967. It was the year when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper to critical and international fame, when Jimi Hendrix was revolutionizing the use of the electric guitar, and when the world’s youth was dropping acid and dreaming of the future. Ray Davies was thinking of the past; of autumn days, his old school notebook, hiking in the woods, and Sunday dinners. There is no better writer of nostalgic pop then Ray, and this song is his shining anthem to that feeling. At his creative height, Ray challenged the Beatles in terms of melodic brilliance and was as good as Bob Dylan in creating emotive original lyrics. He was that good, and “Autumn Almanac” is one of his best songs and greatest examples of his powers. The song is a stream of consciousness, both lyrically, and melodically, but its not without coherence, form, and beauty. The song exists at the limit of creativity a person can achieve with an acoustic guitar writing in the pop song format. I hope you enjoy it.
Making a television show is difficult, especially one like Saturday Night Live where all the content is written and produced a week in advance before live airing. From the looks of this video, making an SNL is a long an tedious process. Here, they are just making a promo spot, and even though this video is edited to 9 minutes, it probably took well over an hour. It’s fantastic to watch though. First you have Eddie Vedder, appearing in April of 1994, a few days after Kurt Cobain killed himself. Eddie and Pearl Jam did a nice little tribute to Kurt as you can see in the picture above with the “K” on Eddie’s chest. That’s just a bit of rock and roll history, but in this clip you get to see a nervous and very young Adam Sandler yuck it up with Eddie, whom Adam is clearly enamored with. You also get to see the oddly detached Emilio Estevez, famous brother of Charlie Sheen, and son of Martin Sheen, interact with these other two icons of film and music. At one point Eddie asks Emilio, how’s it been this week, to which Emilio replies, “I believe everything’s been good, just fine.” It was awkward, and Emilio looks like he’d rather be anywhere else then with some long haired grunge rocker and with the jittery nutbar Adam Sandler. This video is fascinating and revealing, and an awesome time capsule of one of SNL’s golden eras. Check it out!
The Black Keys are guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. Together they have forged a highly successful blues rock revivalist band that are the darlings of the upper tiers of the indie rock world. I’ve always like them, but have not extensively combed through their catalog. Perhaps I’ve finally found a reason to. The reason comes in the form of their cover of the Beatles “She Said, She Said,” from their debut album The Big Come Up. The original Beatles song, from Revolver, is about one of John’s most infamous LSD trips. In 1966, he was tripping in LA with the rest of the Beatles, the Byrds, and Peter Fonda. Fonda, tweaking out, began to obsessively tell a story about how he nearly died as a boy, and couldn’t stop saying, “I know what its like to be dead.” John, understandably freaked out by Fonda’s dark ramblings, promptly wrote a song, and changed Fonda into a girl to fit the Beatle songwriting mold. Though, by 1966, the Beatle mold now included feedback, acid drenched distorted guitars, and glorious swirling psychedelic harmonies. The song was a progressive leap forward for the Beatles, and for rock and roll as a whole. 36 years later, the Black Keys took that song, a song that was still in mid leap mind you, and gave it a real throwback treatment, turning it into a hip 60s blues club rocker. I love the Black Keys version, as it gives the song a grungy and gritty makeover and reveals the essence of the song’s fantastic pop melody. Because it is so fantastic, I’m giving you two versions, the unofficial music video, and a cool live performance. Check em out.
Beulah was formed in a mail room in San Fransisco when Miles Kurosky and Bill Swan decided they both liked the same music, well mostly. This is the kind of story yours truly can get behind due to own desire to hatch great ideas when I worked in a mail room. Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo hooked them into Elephant 6 when he heard their first demo, and before you knew it, Beulah was one of E6′s shining stars of indie rock. The thing I love about the Elephant 6 Collective was how they all intermingled with each other and helped out other bands when they recorded and went on tour. The “collective” part of the moniker was no bullshit, as this was a band of boys and girls who all loved the same music, and all dreamed of becoming rock stars. They remind me of the way certain underground comedy teams were forming around this time in the mid 90s like Upright Citizens Brigade and the State. Creative young people in the 90s all saw the value in sharing, working together, and having fun, despite rivalries, which were never too serious. Beulah is that band, constantly swapping members with Of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control, and the Apples. Musically, Beulah has a gorgeous storytelling quality to their songs. Most of them begin somewhere in the middle, and the music is so energetic and uplifting, that you just go along for the ride, no matter how out of context the lyrical content seems. The only thing I know about “Gene Autry” is that it was released on 9/11/01, bestowing it’s sweet sadness with even more mysticism. “Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand” has some of the greatest lyrics you’ll find in an indie rock song. Lastly, my favorite, “Ballad of the Lonely Agronaut,” I’ve played 1000 times. I always kept swept up in its tale of American exploration, and its ceaselessly catchy structure. The song bursts out the gate with an enthusiastic melody that just hooks you instantly. Also, the line, “gold is coated with gold on the languid hills, where they wait for hours and hours, cool grey ladies from Shirley’s loan us cheer, as they sat for hours and hours,” is so wonderful, and I have no idea what it means, but its been stuck in my head forever. Beulah broke up in 2004 because their last record, Yoko, despite the best reviews of their career, failed to go gold, a huge goal for the band never reached. The recording of that album, which featured the breakup of Miles and his long term girlfriend, and three other band member divorces, was dark and difficult, and took its toll on the group’s psyche. It was a bit of a burnout for one of the most unique and creative bands of the late 90s/early 00′s, but they certainly left a legacy as one of America’s best underground bands with one of the most devoted fan bases.
R.E.M. broke up yesterday, but worry not, because Athens, Georgia rocks on with their other native sons, Of Montreal. Of Montreal, famously not “of Montreal,” hail from R.E.M.’s hometown too. Kevin Barnes, the group’s extroverted introvert genius front man, is peculiar guy. When he broke into music, his talent wasn’t entirely assembled. His early home record, Cherry Peel, is pretty terrible. The only redeeming feature was the strange lyrical sense. It mixed a sublimely inspired high brow thing with an almost crass vulnerability. Even though his early records weren’t great, Kevin kept plugging away, churning out song after song, and record after record, becoming one of the most prolific artists in rock and roll. Along the way, his talent skyrocketed, and most of Of Montreal’s records were entirely recorded by him, and featured stunning melodies, complex arrangements, and a mashing together of styles that was bold and futuristic. My favorite Of Montreal record was 2004′s Satanic Panic in the Attic, a modern day Sgt. Pepper if I ever heard one. That album launched Of Montreal into the mainstream of indie rock, and they have capitalizing on its success ever since, crafting an outrageous David Bowie and Prince inspired live show, and headlining shows all across the world. The first two songs are from the aforementioned album, and the last one, “Art Snob Solutions,” was a bonus cut from The Sunlandic Twins record that followed in the next year. These are my favorite Of Montreal songs, and not only reflect the spirit of Elephant 6′s desire to bring vintage Beatles psychedelia back to life, but Barnes’s own dreams of writing hits and becoming a modern day rock star. Since the middle part of the last decade, Of Montreal has veered towards a more experimental funk disco oriented sound, away from their 60s British roots that I love, and they have become an object of profound love or hate. Again, like Neutral Milk Hotel, I fall somewhere in the middle, not entirely digging their newer stuff, but not dismissing them at all due to my knowledge of the supreme accomplishments Kevin has achieved with his group. He is just following his muse down a path where the one rule seems to be, “don’t repeat yourself,” and its a creed I wished more artists would live by.