Monday, November 22, 2010

Quick Hits for a Holiday Week

Steady Shock - Girl Talk (mp3)

Bob and I are both somewhat distracted and occupied this week, so I’m just throwing out a collection of quick hits.

Girl Talk On Long Play

Those of you in your mid-30s or older likely have this instant and unavoidable nausea that gurgles inside you when you hear the words “Stars On Long Play.” For younger folks, this was a creation that mashed together about 100 songs -- many of them Beatles’ songs, but some disco faves thrown in -- to a single disco beat, thus allowing the bell-bottomed, feathered-back masses dance dance til the boogie night turned to downer day. (YouTube clip of SOLP for the sadomasochistic)

The strange musician/technician known as Girl Talk (his real name is Gregg, but who cares?) released his latest mishmash of law-breaking music last week. His musical creations are Stars On Long Play on steroids, with more powerful technology at his fingertips.

To be sure, better technology doesn’t always make something better. One need only view the evolution of six Star Wars movies to know this. With Girl Talk, however, the improvement is undeniable and significant. When his second “official” album, Feed the Animals, made #4 on my 2008 best of list, I noted the meaninglessness of the mash as the one detraction. But in all of his music, the meaning is this: only someone who really really loves music, lots of music and lots of genres, could do what he does as well as he does it. The meaning of Girl Talk is the ultimate musical expression of vague and widespread fandom.

Even juicier, Girl Talk mostly gives away his music. It could be because he breaks more copyright laws and is guilty of more DMCA violations in a single song than a music blog could commit in a year. Or it could be because he makes enough money on residual rewards than he does for his central product. He’s somehow managed to avoid the wrath of lawyers and CEOs, so bully for him.

Check out his album for free here. If you want my best breakdown between the two most recent collections, the latest delves much deeper into the ‘80s and ‘70s for its background pop and rock, where Feed is much more heavily focused on the ‘90s and ‘00s.

Discovery of the Year

By April it was clear that 2010 would be the best year in music since the birth of BOTG in 2008. As we close out November, it’s possible this is the best music year of this nascent 21st Century. I’m so blown away by the number of great albums released this year that the idea of compiling a Top Ten list saddens me a little. Can’t make a list like that without leaving off someone who, a month or two later, I regretted overlooking.

But one award is in the bag: Discovery of the Year -- The New Pornographers.

It started with my purchase of their newest album, Together, and continued with eMusic purchases of both their debut 2000 album (Mass Romantic) and 2004’s Twin Cinema. By the end of 2011 I’ll own their whole collection. A new one every three or four months is a good pace.

Oddly, I bought A.C. Newman’s first post-New Pornographers solo work, “The Slow Wonder,” in CD format on sale right after it was released. But that was back before the total demise of Tower Records and test driving CDs in the store before purchase. How I could totally miss the news on a band whose style and attitude is almost perfectly designed to give me giddy musical moments is a mystery, but a good one. Finding bands you didn’t previously know and catching up to others who love them is what makes this hobby so splendid.

Beatles on iTunes

The main home page at iTunes is currently awash in Beatle shit. There’s Beatle shit on my football commercials. There’s Beatle shit on NPR and all over the news.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out why any of this is a big deal.

Nothing here is new. Nothing has been re-re-remastered especially for these versions that somehow allow the listener to actually hear John Lennon speak from the grave during these songs. It’s like marketing coffee as being “Now With CAFFEINE!” Or like Volkswagen, instead of redesigning the VW Bug (or, ahem, Beatle), just re-releasing the same damn car they originated 80 years ago.

I mean no respect to the Beatles. But dudes, it’s really time to step aside and let some other folks play the damn game, mmkay?

As for Apple, they could market iTurds and the damn things would sell.

Girl Talk's Steady Shock is included to either impress or horrify the Bruce Springsteen fans amongst our readers.

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