Running (Back) Songs: The Patriots Run to the AFC Championship

As I have written before, I have been a bit of a fan of the Patriots for some time although my love affair with their QB waxed and waned this season (or, rather, waned and waxed, because, hey, he figured it out!). One of the fascinating yet frustrating things about the Patriots over the past decade is that as their passing game has developed, the running game has faltered. Now, while the team’s points per game average has skyrocketed, the win/loss outcome in the playoffs has been, well, disappointing.

(Two losses to Eli? ELI!)

Blount’s most famous day before last weekend.

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Misunderstood: Lyrical Losses

Years ago, a friend and I got over our strange addiction to the movie The Rules of Attraction by acquiring a new drug, by becoming obsessed if only briefly with the movie Napoleon Dynamite, a wan and delicate movie whose humor still gets me to this day and whose repeatability (for me) has been bested only by that greatest comedy of the modern era, Office Space.  Part of what I liked about the movie was the use of music in the prom scene where a few of the corniest songs seem almost profound.

But the song that got me the most was “The Promise” by When in Rome

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Written Elsewhere: An interview with Sigur Ros’ drummer ahead of the band’s first Miami show

Check out this interview with a drummer from one of the most unique bands in music today (Sigur Ros). I haven’t talked enough about how much I like this band, but maybe now I’ll get around to it. (And I owe the band a debt of gratitude, along with The Dirty Three they provided the soundtrack that made my dissertation possible…)

Independent Ethos

One of the concerts of this year we’re most looking forward to is Sigur Rós’ overdue visit to Miami. It’s scheduled to cap the Icelandic band’s current U.S. tour, which kicked off on Sept. 14 in Detroit. Last Friday, I suddenly learned I had the chance to chat for 10 minutes with the band’s longtime drummer/percussionist Orri Páll Dýrason, thanks to Live Nation and the “Miami New Times” pushing their agent for an interview.

The group was in Philadelphia and Dýrason was about to head in to rehearsal. I had many questions, but could only go superficial with such limited time— a bit sacrilegious for a band I have been following from the start, but it was a nice opportunity, so pardon if this post jumps from one topic to another. There is a link to a more cohesive piece at the bottom of this post, which gets into much…

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Grantland’s Battle for the Best Song of the Millennium, the Elite 8

So, over the weekend while I was escaping my 35th birthday Grantland’s contest to find the best song of the century continued without me and without my very valuable commentary on the matter. For the time being, or all time let’s say, I’ll pass over the absurdity of the contest, the fact that it is just a bald attempt to garner some page hits, and the obscenity of the music that has been left out and just focus on celebrating the fact that Beyonce has been swept from the bracket.

There is no way this is a fair fight.

There is no way this is a fair fight.

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Written Elsewhere: Grantland’s Battle For the Best Song of the Millenium

If you don’t know Grantland.com you can probably make it through your life on a day-to-day basis without feeling like you’re living in a state of abject deprivation. Indeed, you can probably live more fully than if you’ve never read The New Yorker, Atlantic, or Harper’s (can you see my prejudice for traditional left-leaning print media?). But you haven’t had the opportunity to sample some of the more thorough, engaging and clever writing on the internet.

What does Beyonce have in common with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Wait for it…

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Bad Band Names (and good ones?)

The subject I am about to touch upon–and don’t be distracted by the brevity with which I treat it–is one that is close to my heart because I was in two bands for nearly four years each and both  had rather terrible names. How do I know that the names were bad? When people ask me what the names of my bands were, I am too embarrassed by them to even utter them. In fact, I often find myself saying a silent prayer of thanks for the fact that both of my bands disappeared before the full rise of the internet. It is very, very hard to connect my proper name with those terrible, awful names.

This band has some pretty good beats and a rather tough sound for some ladies. Where are they now? While a rose by any other name still sounds as sweet, words have intrinsic attractiveness based on their sound and that sound’s relationship to the language at large. If a thorned flower were called ‘turd’, would we have bands named the Stone Turds and Guns N’ Turds? The sound matters.

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Re-posted: July 4th and the Soundtrack of Summer

Another day, another link. This one comes from a blogger (ADIgnorantium) who has made a great soundtrack for some summer partying. When will WordPress create a post to playlist app?

My brother has recently written about songs for the heat and songs for the rain

July 4th and the Soundtrack of Summer.

The only things I would add? Joe Cocker’s “Summer in the City” is one of my all time favorites:

But I also love the old Cole Porter tune “Summertime”, here performed in great style by the one and only Coltrane:

This Coltrane number is good for some deep contemplation (or intoxication). And, what’s a summer playlist without some cheese? Who can really hate Grease’s “Summer Loving”:

Ok, I hate it a little. But I like it a little too

But thanks ADIgnorantium for giving me a start on some songs to play tomorrow.

Written Better Elsewhere: Mumford and Sons vs. Frightened Rabbit

So, my good friend, Another J, just let me know about a piece on the Stereogum.com Deconstructing blog discussing earnestness, indie rock, and the difference between Mumford & Sons and Frightened Rabbit. (“Deconstructing: Frightened Rabbit, Macklemore, and the Perils of Earnestness”).  I like the post, not the least because it taps into the debate my brother and I have been having about Mumford & Sons (he doesn’t like them; I do, a lot, and then less) but also because it compares the band to Frightened Rabbit, a great group I only recently learned about and have been struggling to figure out how to write about.

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Written Elsewhere: Billie Jean in The New Yorker

In a recent issue of The New Yorker (Dec 24 & 31, 2012) Bill Wyman uses the publication of Randall Sullivan’s biography of Michael Jackson (Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson) as an opportunity to present his own reflections on the pop icon while saying barely anything about the biography.

In essence, that critical move is ok—review essays are not book reports after all—but the review, which focuses more on the cultural milieu of Jackson and his negotiation of ethnicity, cultural change and fame, leaves in the reader little sense of the focus of the book and next to no idea of which notions are drawn from the biography and which have sprouted full-formed from the reviewer’s mind.

Not that we can really blame Wyman. Have you ever met anyone who has nothing to say about Michael Jackson? He was one of the biggest and probably one of the last of the great entertainment titans. In the modern media environment, when everything is so clustered and people’s entertainment choices are so varied, can we imagine anyone standing so far and above the competition?

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Even More Youtube covers

So I have been trying to understand my obsession with youtube covers—specifically the ones that draw my attention. I don’t care about the covers performed by ‘real’ bands in ‘real’ venues. Instead, I have a strange penchant for people singing songs they love in their bedrooms, for non-professionals who are not well trained in self-presentation.

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