Shake, Rattle, and Roll Tape

Amazing things can happen in the bedroom. OK, get your mind out of the gutter; we’re talking about music. Specifically Shaky Voices, a one-man band out of Nashville, led by multi-instrumentalist Patrick Baker. Baker recorded most of his last album in his bedroom, using a Dell computer for a kick drum and a mic case for a snare. Whether or not you think pounding a computer repeatedly is a wise move, you can’t argue with the results. Surely Thou Doth Jest is a jaunty jig that shuffles along, cool and confident. Fingers plunk down on piano keys and shake tambourines as feet kick the Dell in time. It’s smart, eccentric post-punk/pop for resourceful slackers. Or, as Baker describes, A lo-fi, late night jam session between Pavement and Pinkerton-era Weezer on a cheap, out-of-tune acoustic guitar that’s missing the ˜A’ string. We couldn’t agree more.

Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Grooms Go From Pavement To Peter Gabriel On 'Prom'

The Brooklyn-based trio Grooms debuted in 2010 with the album Rejoicer, prompting members of the press to haul out wheelbarrows full of references to ˜90s alt rock, with Pavement and Sonic Youth taking up the most room in the cart. Bandleader Travis Johnson admits that those comparisons were not completely without merit, but his band has moved into other realms with the follow-up, Prom. On this album we definitely moved away from some of the more classic ˜80s and ˜90s American indie-rock influences we’ve used before, he explains, We weren’t really thinking of those bands at all when we were making this record¦ They were probably fairly accurate [as comparisons] before, but they seem less accurate to me now.

Where Rejoicer bore a relatively straightforward production style that put the focus squarely on Johnson’s off-kilter guitar arithmetic, Prom is a shadowy record that plays a constant game of sonic hide-and-seek, offering flashes of rich textures that retreat evanescently before you can sink your teeth into them; it boasts a more 3-D approach to the recording process, turning the sounds emitted by Johnson, Emily Ambruso and Jim Sykes into a ghost army of funhouse-mirror reflections, teeming with complex textures and caroming constantly from bristling discord to fragile beauty and back again. So what was in Johnson’s Soundcloud during the making of Prom? For this record we were listening more to things like Broadcast or Tortoise or Peter Gabriel or something, he says. The post-rock references ring true, and what’s more, there’s a quality to the album that recalls the try-anything aesthetic of other, nearly forgotten ’90s acts of that ilk, like Long Fin Killie and Moonshake.

But there’s one influence that has left a deeper mark on Johnson’s songs than any band could, and that’s his ongoing struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Johnson has let it be known that much of his music is colored by his experiences with OCD, but going public with that kind of personal information wasn’t a snap decision for him. I actually did have hesitations about it, he says, not because I care about people knowing things like that about me, but because I hate when people exploit things like that. I think I was actually talking to my mom, who also has OCD, and she was just talking about how it’s not exploitative to talk about where the songs are coming from, which is largely through this really thick lens of OCD.


Pixies Reunite, Indie Kids Rejoice, Blogosphere Explodes

If there’s one thing about the music industry that’s becoming increasingly common, it’s that no band breaks up forever. (In fact, OurStage even reported on that trend earlier this year. Just saying.) Which is why we weren’t exactly shocked last week when the Pixies”no stranger to reunions after breaking up in 1993 and touring together sporadically between 2004 and 2009”announced that the band might start working on a new record.

The band started dropping hints in an April 28 interview with Spinner. That talk about making a record will be in the forefront next because it’ll be time, you know. It’ll be time, said guitarist Joey Santiago. We’ve definitely gelled as a unit and hopefully when we can all bury the hatchet”and we have”maybe we’ll go in there and hope for the best. Santiago also revealed that U2’s famous frontman was part of the reason they considered recording a new album. Bono even asked,” Santiago said. He’s like, ˜Please make a record!’ Can’t argue with that!

In the wake of all the blog chatter and speculation, we’re left wondering if this forthcoming album is going to be as big for the Pixies as people think it is. But Bono demanded it! you’re saying. The blogs are all aflutter with the news! How can this not be the biggest reunion since the most recent huge band reunion? Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy for bands like this. There’s a strange dichotomy with blog buzz bands like the Pixies or Neutral Milk Hotel that have a cultishly loyal following but find themselves unable to translate that into mainstream success. Just because we music nerds like to blog excessively about them, that doesn’t always mean that their sales will match the hype.

The Pixies might have one advantage over all of the blog buzz BS, and that’s their fan base. The same alt-rock loving kids who jammed Where is my Mind? in the late ˜80s are now in their mid-thirties and forties, and they probably have a slightly steadier source of income than when they were selling ice cream over the summer at age fifteen. And bands like U2 and The Who have consistently demonstrated the importance of a fan demographic that has money to spend, selling out arenas and stadiums when they’re twenty years past their prime (at least). Fans who couldn’t afford their shows on a tight teenage budget can grab themselves some of the experience they missed out on growing up. There’s a definite benefit to having a following that still pays for music”and the Pixies have it.

Either way, this is sure to be a release for Pixies fans and music lovers alike to get excited about. And lest you forget how important the Pixies have been to those who followed or find yourself wondering why everyone’s making such a big deal about this, we’ve included a little playlist below filled with the bands who were inspired by the Boston-based rockers. Trust us, there are a lot of them, and they rule.

The White Stripes: A Retrospective

Alas, The White Stripes, the band that led the garage rock revival in the late ’90s and early aughts, has called it quits. Let’s take a look at what made the band so great and why we probably shouldn’t be so sad that they’re gone.

The White Stripes had some of the best music videos EVER

The moment that most of us were first introduced to The White Stripes was in that awesome video for “Fell In Love With A Girl”. Without even mentioning the song (which is great) there are so many reasons that makes this video so iconic. First of all, LEGOS! Also, the video was likely your introduction to the work of Michel Gondry. “The Hardest Button to Button” is another iconic video from The White Stripes. So iconic, in fact, that it gets the spoof treatment on The Simpsons, with a cameo from the Stripes themselves!

The White Stripes reminded us of candy

Red white. Who knew that those two colors would end up being so revolutionary? The White Stripes are an instantly recognizable brand; I don’t think I’ve ever seen the band perform in or pictures without either of the Whites not wearing something red. And that drum set too. The sugar cane candy coated looking swirl on the front of the kick is so totally The White Stripes. Funny that a band so crunchy adopted a look that so many associate with sweetness. Not that The White Stripes don’t have their softer moments”remember “We’re Going To Be Friends”?

The White Stripes had the most mysterious relationship dynamic in rock

I mean, weren’t they brother and sister or  married or  illegal immigrants or something? We could never figure out exactly what Meg and Jack were to each other. The speculation as to the nature of their relationship (Married? Related? Both?!) added a good dose of mystique to the group. For the record, Jack and Meg were married for part of the ’90s but got divorced in 2000. Seems like they’ve had a more healthy post-breakup relationship than most.

But hey, you shouldn’t let their breakup get you too down. I can think of at least two good reasons why we shouldn’t be sad that The White Stripes are gone.

First: Jack White is still the busiest man in showbiz

Poor Jack White. Having endured the last White Stripes record being the greatest flop of his career, the frontman retreats to his palatial estate and/or gutter only to occasionally reenter the public eye as a shadow of his former glory, a shell of a broken man. Oh wait, that never happened. Jack White is not some elusive, hermit-like cave person; the man is still fronting The Dead Weather for sure, probably still involved with The Raconteurs and on top of that he’s quite busy producing albums for country legends and running Third Man Records. Meg White”the more private of the duo”never was too fond of the limelight so she’s probably happier now that she won’t be hounded quite as frequently by the press.

Second: The White Stripes will almost certainly reunite

I mean, come on. Just in the past three years we’ve seen Blink 182, Pavement, Phish, Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine all get back together for triumphant reunion tours and nostalgia trips. Plus, it doesn’t look like they broke up due to inter-band conflict (the only explanation that has come out of the Stripes camp is that they want to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way) so I suspect that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from The White Stripes.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ke$ha reveals the origin of her moniker

The dollar sign in place of an s is lame”we all know that. But guys, it isn’t Ke$ha’s fault! She used to spell her name like any other normal person named Kesha. But then, this thing happened ¦ watch the Funny Or Die clip below to see where it all went wrong.

Beatles catalog is finally available on iTunes

The long and winding road that separated EMI Group, Ltd from Apple has come to an end, meaning Beatles fans can now download the entire canon on iTunes. So what’s the most downloaded track in the three days since the songs have been available? Depends on where you are in the world. If you’re here in the US, it’s Here Comes the Sun, Let It Be and In My Life. We are a sentimental lot, we are.

The Bad

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are engaged!

True story: Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are getting married! But before you dust off your DVD of Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica and crack open some champagne in celebration, you should know that they’re marrying other people this time. Nick announced his engagement to Vanessa Minnillo this week, and Jessica announced her betrothal to Eric Johnson a couple days later. AND THEN, Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton. Why can’t Prince William let Jessica have her moment?!?

The Ugly

Nick Cave curses out smoke machine operator at Grinderman’s in NYC

Specifically, he said, Could you stop pouring smoke out of that f—ing machine, please? Both the smoke machine and the smoke machine operator then shrunk away to go die quietly in a corner.

Billy Corgan disses Pavement

Billy Corgan vacillates between being a beacon of lightness and a total sourpuss. Today on Twitter he channeled the latter, releasing a series of tweets bemoaning the fact that Pavement would open for Smashing Pumpkins in Brazil. ¦They represent the death of the alternative dream, and we follow with the affirmation of life part, he complained. Dude, you have a song called Drown”that’s hardly life-affirming.


Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ryan Adams to release two new albums

Ryan Adams

What’s better than one new Ryan Adam’s album? Two”duh! This week Adam’s posted a message on his Facebook page to announce he’ll start recording part one of a new solo album, what he dubs West Coast Sessions. Fans can expect something like the evil twin of Cold Roses, minus all the noodling. And if that doesn’t set you adrift on memory bliss, remember that there’s a double album with his backing band, the Cardinals, called III/IV that’s coming down the pipe, too. How d’ya like them roses?

The Bad

Big Star bassist passes away

Big Star

What a rough year for Big Star. First singer Alex Chilton dies of a sudden heart attack in March. Now, four months after playing a tribute show to Chilton at SXSW, bassist Andy Hummel has succumbed to cancer. Chilton, Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens formed the band in Memphis in the ˜70s to modest renown. But bands like R.E.M. and Paul Westerberg, who cited Big Star as an influence, garnered the band a cult following in the ˜90s. Hummel, who was a longtime employee of Lockheed Martin, quit the band in 1974 before recording their most influential record, Third/Sister Lovers.

Pink suffers fall on stage in Germany

In what definitely left a mark, Pink fell into a barricade minutes into her concert in Nuremberg Germany and was immediately rushed to the hospital. After reassuring fans she was OK with Twitter updates, the singer explained that she had not been clipped into her harness correctly. Upside: I made that barricade my bitch, she cheerfully tweeted (cheeweeted?).

The Ugly

Gaga warns fans about Westboro Baptist Church protest

Lady Gaga

After the fundamentalist, and”ok let’s face it”batshit crazy Westboro Baptist Church members (the same class acts who protested soldier’s funerals with the signs that read God hates fags) announced they would be in attendance outside of Lady Gaga’s concert in St. Louis, Gaga headed to her Twitter page to warn her little monsters. Pay these hate criminals no mind. Do not respond to their provocation, she advised. Feel gratitude in your heart that you are not burdened or addicted to hate, as they are.” Only a handful of Westboro church members ended up showing up.

Score: Love, 1, Hate, 0.

Enrique Iglesias uses fan’s camera to snap pic down his pants

Ew. And gross. And why? And ¦ how did it turn out?