Mr. Bill George Presents

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Odds And Ends #3

In Film, Music, Site on November 22, 2009 at 11:15 PM

TIAW is devoted to giving all of our readers thoughtful and interesting content. We do so in a fairly lengthy fashion (according to internet standards at least). These essays can be spaced out quite a bit because we put a lot into them, so I apologize for the lack of updates as of late. In the mean time, if you are interested in the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of TIAW founder Bill George (the person typing this) feel free to visit his/my tumblr blog at MrBillGeorge.com.

That being said, here are a few things I’ve been thinking about lately that aren’t quite worthy of their own TIAW posts. However, I still feel like sharing them and it’s a good way to get a post up to keep the site active.

2012 - Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster (of a) film is certainly a ‘visual effects extravaganza’… for an hour or so. But the hour and half following that is anything but. It’s, well, boring. Very boring. It’s supposed to be an action blockbuster but it clocks in at a staggering 158 minutes. The pacing is horrific. The action beats are so far apart you forget why you’re watching it.

There are countless subplots that simply do not need to exist. At all. For any reason. Nothing would be lost with the cutting of half the film’s cast. Nobody goes into this film expecting anything besides what the trailers promise: destruction. There were a couple breathtaking sequences but otherwise it felt totally flat.

Enjoyable at times? Sure. Do those times make up for the other two hours that must be endured? Not even close.

Phrazes For The Young – I’m not usually much of a music critic. I’ve written a handful of album reviews in my day but I always feel out of my element. Film has always been my bag and music is more of a hobby. I excel at picking music to use in movies but that’s the extent of my expertise. (Well, unless you count playing Rock Band on expert I suppose.)

But with music, just like everything else, I know what I like. And I love this album.

It’s a solo album from Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas. I don’t really know how to describe it or how to put into words why I love it so much, I just do. So I wanted to share it with everyone in case there are people out there like me.

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Great Music I’ve Discovered Through Commercials

In Music on October 16, 2009 at 9:57 PM

Artist – Song Title (Product advertised)

Shiny Toy Guns – Burning For You (Lincoln)

Tom Hedden – Finale (Cambell’s Soup)

Morphine – Buena (Nissan)

Feist – 1234 (iPod Nano 3rd Gen)

Miss Li – Bourgeois Shangri-La (iPod Nano 5th Gen)

The Caesars – Jerk It Out (iPod Shuffle 1st Gen)

Chairlift – Bruises (iPod Nano 4th Gen)

Judy Garland – Get Happy (Gap)

Tammany Hall – Always On Sunday / Wait For You (HBO)

Charles Trenet – Boum (I Forget)

Royksopp – Remind Me (Geico)

The Cure – Pictures Of You (HP)

Cat Stevens If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (MyTouch3G)

What other tunes have people gleaned from the tube?

Odds And Ends #2

In Film, Music, Video Games on September 23, 2009 at 10:28 AM

- Friend of TIAW and frequent commenter, ‘unofficialitguy’ is doing a site revamp over at http://www.unofficialitguy.com/ . Make sure to check it out this Friday, September 25th. When the time rolls around I’ll edit this post with updated details but I wanted to make sure you all were prepped and ready to go. He’s also been added to our links list on the bottom left of this page. Can’t wait to see it!

- The long awaited DS game Sribblenauts came out recently and I picked myself up a copy. It is unbelievably fun at times but can be frustrating at others. As a 5 minute demo to show off for friends, it’s unrivaled. But when you really sit down and starting putting time into it and slog through the hundreds of levels, it starts to wear. Sure, you can create any object you want and use it to help you solve puzzles, but often those objects don’t act the way you expect them to or hope they will.

If I create a construction worker and put him in a backhoe and place the whole thing above a dig-able surface, I expect results! Instead he sits idly by twiddling his virtual thumbs (essentially). In fact, whenever you create any other human characters they either act as a guardian for you, an enemy of you, or neither and just meander around.

The game’s database is a marvel to behold with no stone left unturned, and as an appetizer the game succeeds tremendously, but hopefully this will flourish into a franchise. Maybe then they’ll focus on adding depth to what happens on screen instead of just deepening their glossary.

- Speaking of games, I recently played The Beatles: Rock Band for the first time. I had about an hour and a half with the game and went through 3 or 4 sets with a handful of songs a piece. It is what I expected: a Rock Band game full of Beatles music. But it goes so far above and beyond in terms of detail and presentation that it really blows all other music games out of the water. The amount of effort that must have been poured into this game is palpable in the background videos, loading screens, menus etc. It’s truly a sight to behold, and I’m not even a huge Beatles fan. (Though I am becoming one. It’s so much easier to comprehend just how much they did when you see it all in one place. And it helps when that one place is a video game franchise I already know intimately and love.)

- Steven Soderbergh’s new film The Informant! came out last week and I had the pleasure of seeing it. It tells the unbelievable true story of Mark Whitacre and his work with the FBI as an informant in a price fixing scandal involving one of the biggest companies in the food industry in the early 90’s. Sounds like a snoozer, but Damon’s performance as Whitacre is inspired. It’s a fascinating story that’s told so well that it is nothing short of riveting. Worth a watch for sure.

- I downloaded the song from the new Nano commercial. It’s a good time. You can find it HERE, track number 9, “Bourgeois Shangri-La.”

Why I Hate Country Music

In Music on September 7, 2009 at 4:38 PM

What kind of music do you like?

In my experience the archetypal answer, at least for everyone around these parts is that they like pretty much everything, except for rap and country. Recently, rap has sort of fallen off that list. So why does country music never make the cut? In a society where people are exposed to, and seem to enjoy more and more types of musical genres it becomes difficult for people to say that they are fans of any type of music, so they simply say everything but country? Poor country.

I think, that in my years of listening, I have stumbled upon the reason why I am not too fond of a lot of country music, and I’m guessing that this might apply to a lot of other people as well. It’s not the excess use of peppy fiddle or the strumming of acoustic guitar, both of those I rank up in the awesome category. It’s certainly not the down home vibe that it gives off, as I’m a fan of folk music and it usually carries with it a similar imagery (albeit usually sans cowboy hats). I think it’s the fact that Country, more than any other genre of music, over-utilizes as type of song that simply doesn’t resonate with me. The story song.

Have you all heard the story song before? It starts off on some rainy night when the singer was a kid, or maybe during a conversation with an auto-mechanic or your dad, you enter into a situation thinking one thing or feeling one thing, and thanks to an odd circumstance, or conversation or a bit of imparted wisdom you’re able to get over your sadness, frustration, being cheated by the car dealer and become better or smarter for it. Blech.

I’m sorry Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Brooks, and Dunn. Story songs are stupid. Really, really stupid. They just don’t hit me at all. They tend to start off on a shaky premise, and end up feeling forced and hokey. There are some notable exceptions to this. The Gambler by Kenny Rogers being the first that comes to mind. The Gambler is a story about a man got some advice from a wise poker player about how to live his life. It’s catchy, and it really, really hits me. It’s a story, but it’s a story from a moment in time. There’s no resolution except that the dude was like “Wow, good advice.” Kenny Rogers was smart enough not to end that song with some rhyming version of happily ever after. He didn’t grow and change and go home and kiss his wife because of what “the gambler” said. Plus, I’m pretty sure that the gambler dies in the song, which is always dramatic. Stuff happens, a story is told, and it’s cool! It’s cool because they leave something up to the imagination.

Look country music writers: When we lend you our ears for two to five minutes we’re not looking for a story. We’re not looking for you to smirk and tell us about the time that you outsmarted your friends. Or learned a lot about life, or how you’ve grown as a person. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I would love to hear how you’ve grown as a person, just not in lyrical form. People tune into music in order to feel something, and 5 minutes is far too short of a time to go through conflict and resolution. Just leave it at conflict. Take the song for what it really is, a moment in time, and just belt out how effing miserable you are. Don’t grow, don’t change, don’t rethink your life. I don’t want that. At least not in your music, and if you’ve got a story to tell, please for the love of all that is musically good, don’t end the story. It doesn’t need an ending.

So I guess that’s why I hate (some) country music. How about everyone else? What makes you hate (insert genre here) type of music?

McCartney At Fenway

In Music on August 8, 2009 at 7:27 PM

Generally, when I am at a concert I notice that there is an indeterminable amount of people around me bobbing their heads, tapping their toes, and occasionally rhythmically swinging their hips to the tunes. I have never been one of these people. I am a person who looks around at this unspoken choreography going on in the crowd around me and thinks, “How does that happen? I guess I should bob my head or something,” for fear that the people in my immediate vicinity might mistake me for an upright corpse struck with rigor mortis.

However, I became all of those people effortlessly the other night when I saw Paul McCartney at Fenway Park. I can recall certain times during the night where I came to certain realizations, such as the realization that my leg was moving at regular intervals without my knowledge to the beat of Lady Madonna and that my voice box was indeed “na-na-naaaing” with the rest of the crowd for the end of Hey Jude. It is the fact that the music brought out these seldom seen functions in me that I knew I was witnessing an amazing performance.

I must say I was hesitant to shell out $215 two weeks ago on tickets for me and my girlfriend but after all is said in done I can say that it would have been worth it had I only been there for the A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance rendition. I remember being covered in goosebumps suddenly and intensely as soon as I heard that familiar, elegant guitar strum accompanied by the melodic entrance of the piano keys.

Not all the tracks were Beatles tracks however, a good number of the songs at the concert’s start were from his solo career, which I can’t say I’m too familiar with. I didn’t mind this though because it made those few initial songs played from the Beatles all the more magical. I love the Beatles, though I have always just classified them as classic rock and never once thought I’d be hearing those familiar songs sung by one of them. They were a golden relic that I wouldn’t ever think I’d experience which made hearing those songs performed by one of the two surviving members one of the most memorable experiences I will ever hope to have. I cannot believe that two weeks ago I was contemplating missing a living legend because I would be tired for work the next morning.

Aside from my overwhelming feelings of Beatles nostalgia this concert inspired in me, the concert itself was fantastic. I mildly feared that the show might be something that sells just by having Paul McCartney’s name attached to it and was skeptical of the quality I would experience.

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Favorite Band: Do You Have One?

In Music on August 1, 2009 at 11:20 PM

I don’t know if this has happened to you but I seem to be continuously taking part in the following scenario: I meet someone new or are becoming better acquainted with someone. We discuss pop culture, tastes, interests etc. They ask me what my favorite band is. I stare at them blankly.

Truth be told: I don’t have a favorite band.

Don’t get me wrong, I love music. (I must, seeing as I have 46 gigabytes worth of it.) But I’ve never fallen in lockstep with one band and considered them the be all, end all. There will be spats of time where I only seem to listen to one band. But then I get tired of it and move on to another. Only to rediscover that first band again 9 months down the road and realize (again) how amazing they are. Then get tired of them (again) and move on. And so the cycle continues over and over again, band after band, artist after artist.

But I’ve never had one band or artist that is it. I’ve never had a group that defines me as a person. That sums me up. That I see every time they are playing in the area. Whose website I check daily. I don’t really have any shirts with bands on them. Growing up I never really had posters for musicians etc.

On the other side of the coin, I know people who live by a certain band. That band and their music is everything to them. They have the shirts, they go to the shows, they subscribe to the newsletter, it’s always playing in their car etc. To the point where if someone mentions that band, you immediately think of that person. There is a direct association between that person and the band that they worship.

I’m not one of those people. And, you know what, sometimes I wish I was.

I’m envious of the stability of that relationship. Whatever happens in life, that person has that band. That person is secure in the knowledge that they share a special bond with that group (in their mind at least) and always will, whenever times are tough.

But simultaneously, I can’t help but feel the idea of a favorite band, or complete devotion to one artist, is a bit short sighted. One dimensional even. There is so much music in the world. And I’m sure these people like other music but to be so tethered (or so they make it seem publicly) seems unnecessary. Maybe that is how these people really feel, or maybe they just like having that stand-out characteristic that helps define them. I’m not sure.

All I know is, I don’t have a single favorite band. Never have. And I imagine, never will. Anyone else with me on this one? Or should I just pick one I feel comfortable naming if someone asks and be done with it?

Radio Edit: Censoring The Competition

In Music on July 26, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Whoa! Have you heard the new song “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas? It is a pretty catchy dance/pop song this year. Wait… I have a question though. Have you noticed what I have noticed? No? You must have heard the song on terrestrial radio then. You might not have noticed what I noticed unless you have the album or you are a Sirius XM Satellite Radio subscriber. Many of the radio stations nationwide have decided to censor “satellite” from the following lyrics:

… here we go, here we go / satellite radio / ya’ll getting hit with (boom boom) / beats so big I’m steppin’ on leprechauns …

That is right! They censored the word “satellite”. That is pathetic. I have to be honest… this legitimately blows my mind. Radio stations have decided to bleep out the word “satellite” due to the fact that satellite radio is competition. They have treated the word like a curse word. Would you bolt to your closest Best Buy and purchase yourself a plug-and-play satellite radio due to one word in a song? It is not an advertisement, it is a song for crying out loud.

On the other hand, I slightly understand that it would be bad marketing to “advertise” a competitors service by allowing the word to be played but it just seems immature in my book. Now, I have to admit that I am a loyal Sirius XM Satellite Radio subscriber and love it for many reasons including no censorship and no advertisements during music but I am paying for the service. If satellite radio was not that great, I would just listen to the free alternative… terrestrial radio.

However, I need to know something. Is terrestrial radio starting to struggle enough as a “free” means of music to prevent competition to be named in a song being played on their station? I think this is just a ridiculous move by terrestrial radio. In my opinion, this creates more of a reason to become a satellite radio subscriber.

I just needed to get this off my chest here, as The Corporate Tree is more business related. Ummm… I don’t know if I crossed this line like the Black Eyed Peas… are the three words The Corporate Tree going to get censored from this post? What do you think of this type of censorship? Please leave comments and express your opinions. Until next time…

Well… here we go, here we go… satellite radio…

Censored Sirius

Musical Digression

In Music on July 2, 2009 at 9:34 PM

Recently I have discovered an interesting trend in my musical tastes. And that trend, which only until recently became apparent to me, is that for some reason I no longer enjoy music unless there is the presence of some unconventional instrument such as an accordion, fiddle, or random wind instrument thrown into the mix.

I believe this started a few years ago when I became a fan of a Philadelphian band, Man Man, that utilizes a variety of instruments/noisemakers in their music which creates a distinct blend of musical chaos that suits my fancy. This was then furthered when I became a fan of gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello whom utilizes a violin in most of their tracks aside from other random instruments.

Now I have spiraled into listening to such bands as Balkan Beat Box, BeiruitDevotchka, Ethiopian Jazzist Mulatu Astatke and other bands that have a wild undefinable sound to them. Perhaps this could be due to the fact that I lack the musical aptitude to classify these bands but I find my favorite music is the kind of music I have difficulty explaining to people. Most recently an elderly gent at my place of work asked me what kind of music Man Man was when I told him I was going to a concert and as I processed all the possible explanations of what their music entails all that came out in the end was “….rock?”

This fact is mainly why I decided to write this article at the present, first off in an attempt to try to categorize my favorite music, and second of all to provide some not-so-popular bands that people may find interesting.

First off I’d like to talk about Man Man, my favorite band at the moment and one that I will go any lengths to see live. Man Man is composed of 5 individuals who all sport ridiculous stage names such as “Honus Honus,” “Chang Wang,” and “Critter Crat.” When they play live they don white jeans, white shirts, and decorate their faces with white face paint. Their performance can best be likened to a group of talented cave men performing in a back alley London dive circa 1920.  They were one of the first bands that really defined my musical tastes and I would suggest listening to a personal favorite of mine, “10lb Mustache” over on the tube for you. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxv0qhAauAk)

Another favorite of mine, one considerably more popular than Man Man, though I do run into plenty of people who have never heard of them is Gogol Bordello. It’s a bit easier to classify them and if I had to pick one genre I’d say they are punk, though the eastern European twist they put on it makes them fantastic. I recently saw them in Boston for the first time and it was probably the best show I’ve ever seen. They played for close to three hours and the whole time I was writhing in a sea of people and sweat set at a constant 98.6 degrees while struggling to maintain the little fluids I had left and the fact that I wasn’t absolutely miserable in said conditions says something about the quality of the show. Their music is fast paced and full of energy and since I have been in a faced paced energetic mood as of late it compliments my day to day nicely. A song I’d recommend by them would have to be “Start Wearing Purple” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM1Ahn0Osjo) and I insist that you check it out.

I suppose those are the two biggies I wanted to talk about, however I would like to leave off with a song I recently came across that I am in love with by Les Claypool with Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello as a guest singer called “Bite out of Life.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nrSjfoJxn0)

And if anyone out there has some music that you feel is similar to these illustrious bands let me know, for I am constantly searching for new music.

Can You Feel That Beat?

In Music, News on June 26, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Michael Jackson is dead.

As I look at that statement it still seems surreal. How could someone go from so high to so low. The King of Pop has had one of the most meteoric falls from grace that any star has had. Most starts fade away as their careers wane, but his was inescapable and his every move has been a headline.

But the real question is, does the world know what it has lost today? I consider myself a relative newcomer to Michael Jackson’s music. My roommate and I nearly wore out a copy of his #1 hits, (Mario Kart 64 and brown liquor also aided in our quest). But after the first couple of times listening through it, I realized that I had never actually given MJ a chance. I didn’t just listen…

And you know what, I think that a lot of the world stopped listening. Many of MJ’s fans were justified in abandoning ship once the first child molestation accusations came out and even more so after wave after wave of embarrassing, sad, and downright puzzling news came out about “Wacko Jacko.” In the coming days I think many people will know what a true genre-jumping genius that Michael Jackson was. From working with Eddie Van Halen on Beat It to create the penultimate rock track, to the soulful Rock With Me, to the bluesy-pop Billie Jean, the King of Pop moniker really doesn’t do him justice.

As his persona changed so did the world’s view of him. The new generation of kids only will know Michael from episodes of South Park and Scary Movie and his infamous mugshot. In many ways Michael brought the fallout on himself and I think each of us knows that the man must have been battling some of the most serious demons ever constructed.

More ominously in my mind was his recently announced “comeback” tour. But does anybody know what it was due to be called. “This is it.” When I read that four months ago I thought to myself, “This is it, the end.” I honestly thought to myself that he would end his life. It seemed destined. In the coming days I would not at all be surprised to find out that his cardiac arrest was brought on by some outside supplement, not from high cholesterol. (Although a stress related heart attack isn’t that unbelievable.)

That said, it is now time to reflect on Michael’s career as a whole. He is more widely known than any other artist (quiet down McCartney, you’re the one who sold him the Beatles rights and you’ll probably get them back) and Thriller being the best selling album of all time is a testament to that. He’s been parodied by “Weird” Al making him accessable to even more people. He was the star of his own videogame on Sega Genesis. (Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Play it, it’s a must experience event in your life.) If that’s doesn’t define legend I don’t know what does.

Ride the Boogie Michael… I know you would want us to do the same.

Stuff

In Music, Technology on June 23, 2009 at 1:37 AM

So, there hasn’t been a post in quite some time. Reason being: I’ve been busy. And I assume so have my contributors. I’ve been working a lot more than usual lately due to the release of a new iPhone you may have heard a little something about. But I figured I’d take this opportunity to share with you some of the stuff I’ve been reading, while I haven’t been writing.

- The Perry Bible Fellowship. It’s a comic strip that was introduced to me by @angusmcweiner back when we were roommates in college. It is honestly some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen. But be warned: it’s addictive. They are short and sweet so once you start reading, you don’t stop. Multiple times I’ve taken 45 minutes out of my day just going through all of them. Definitely worth a look.

- John Elliott & The Hereafter. John just came out with a new live album called Too Many Ghosts, available now via iTunes. I just picked that up and am listening to it as I type. It’s amazing just like the rest of his music. It is certainly worth checking out. Especially since in the albums page you’ll find his first release Parade available in its entirety as a free download. You can’t go wrong (especially with The Girl Next Door). And don’t forget to check out the video for American in Love off his latest studio album… because I made it. (Shameless plug? Yes.)

- Mint.com. Little late to the game on this one but I just got into it and love it. Mostly because it actually succeeds at syncing with my Bank of America accounts with ease and dividing my spending into accurate categories automatically. I just wish it included pending transactions instead of just cleared. Oh well. Best part? It’s free and so is its corresponding iPhone app.

- I’ve also been spending a lot of time reading articles from a blog entitled, Lifehacker. Including this stand out article I’ve been sharing with everyone I know. It’s genious ideas like this and tech news/stories that make Lifehacker a wonderful addition to anyone’s RSS readers. (This one comes courtesy of TIAW friend @mattrawding)

- Okay, last one: This is just interesting – Movies with the Most Instances of the F-word.

So that’s some of the stuff I’ve been reading while I haven’t been writing. Anyone else been occupied with anything particularly interested? Leave links in the comments!

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