Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

28 07 2012

Listened: Sunday July 1

(What’s The Story) Morning Glory is one of the most important modern albums of my high school life. It came out when I was 16, and it was just everywhere. I remember very clearly celebrating my friend Alma’s 16th birthday in the basement rec room of her apartment building, with Morning Glory as the soundtrack. I think there were other albums we played, but I only specifically remember Morning Glory.

I also remember my friends and I singing “You’re my Van-Der-Waals” to the tune of Wonderwall to GT Macway in AP Chemistry class (why I remember us singing to him specifically, I’m not sure, we may have sung it to others as well). Yes, we were big nerds.

For all of Oasis’ bullshit at the time and since, this album is unequivocally filled with amazing, classic songs. I sing along with no shame to every single one. However, the two untitled snippets were bizarre then and I still find it bizarre they released an album with just samples of two songs on it so that you would buy the singles to get the real tracks. I’m glad that wasn’t a trend that caught on.

Before the project, I hadn’t listened to Morning Glory very much since college. However, several years ago during a Rock Band binge at a friend’s place in Santa Barbara, the wives and girlfriends played Don’t Look Back in Anger together just as the men were returning to the house. I couldn’t help singing along at the top of my voice, even though I wasn’t the one with the microphone (I was drumming). I was caught up remembering my high school years by singing along to such a fun song. I hope Jen, the person officially singing, didn’t mind. I was just enjoying myself and wasn’t trying to compete with her, but I don’t know if she knew that.

Despite the entreaties of the band not to, I kinda did put my “life in the hands of a rock and roll band”. Who am I kidding? I’ve done it so many times.

Weezer – Weezer (Green)

27 07 2012

Listened: Saturday June 30

I remember very clearly when The Green Album came out – I was an unemployed new college grad living at home with my parents again. I had spent my entire college career with no new Weezer, since Pinkerton had come out in 1996 and Green came out in 2001. Given the very different masterpieces which are their first two albums, it was really exciting to ponder what new Weezer would sound like.

The answer – a lot like Blue, but with even more energy. It feels like the lyrics are a lot more relaxed than Blue and Pinkerton too. There’s not so much insecurity and angst. It’s not so much better as different.

As I noted in the review for Maladroit, when Green came out I realized that I was perhaps past the age limit and below the coolness factor to be a Weezer fan anymore. I went to my first Weezer show in Oakland on September 12, 2001. Things were already a bit aggro because September 11th had just happened, and it should have been a nice distraction to go to a show for a band I liked, but instead I found myself surrounded by high school cool kids. I was confused –  where were all the 22 year old nerds like myself? It didn’t help that there were 2 openers, one of which Weezer fans clearly weren’t interested in seeing (Cold, who are kind of a gothy metal band; the lineup didn’t make sense then and it still doesn’t make sense now) since during their set more attention was paid to booing, hecking, and pushing the already packed crowd all over the place.

It wasn’t a fun time, and it affected my reception of their next album, Maladroit. As I noted in that review, now that a lot of time has passed, I can acknowledge that album’s decentness, but at the time, it was time to move on to something else.

Weezer – Weezer (Blue)

26 07 2012

Listened: Wednesday May 30

Along with Green Day’s Dookie, The Blue Album reminds me of freshman year of high school, which is when I was discovering how great rock music is. I think The Sweater Song is more evocative of my youth than Smells Like Teen Spirit (which was also important). This is  because Weezer’s music was really the first mainstream example of nerd rock that acknowledged itself. Shoutouts to D&D, a love of KISS, and descriptions of feeling comfortable in a garage where your peers can’t bother you about your weird tendencies bear this out. As a lifelong nerd, this was definitely appealing to me.

Maybe because it’s never really gone away since its release in 1994, Blue doesn’t sound dated at all. It’s still a groovy, heartfelt masterpiece from beginning to end. The only song that really gives me pause now that I’m an adult is No One Else – the attitude towards the woman in question is quite immature and disturbing. His ideal girlfriend needs to keep her laughter in check for anyone but him and can’t wear makeup for anyone else but him? I feel sorry for someone who still thinks that way as an adult!

Pulp – We Love Life

13 07 2012

Listened: Tuesday, May 15

I have no idea why We Love Life gets no love. When I saw Pulp perform back in April (best show I’ve ever been to, by the way) they only played Sunrise. I love all the other songs from Different Class, This is Hardcore, and His ‘n’ Hers, but there are so many great ones here as well.

One of my favorite songs in the Pulp catalog is Forever in My Dreams (a US bonus track on the album), mostly because of the classic “Oh, daaaamn!” lyrics Jarvis sings with gusto during what could be a romantic love song “I will love and respect you, I will honor and obey. But baby, will I marry you? Well, that’ll be the day!” I also enjoy that it’s very Bolero-like musically, which enhances the epic buildup to that lyrical bomb.

Sunrise is Pulp’s classic festival song, and I’m glad I got to hear them do it at Coachella 2012. It’s a song for ambivalent nocturnal creatures of the underground to shake their asses to – “I used to hate the sun because it shone on everything I’d done. Made me feel that all that I had done was overfill the ashtray of my life. All my achievements in days of yore range from pathetic  to piss-poor, but all that’s gonna change.” I believe him.

Two songs on this album – The Night That Minnie Timperley Died and The Birds in Your Garden – seem rather straightforward, but upon repeated listens I’ve discovered some interesting and possibly intentional vagueness of the lyrics in both.

Minnie Timperley seems to be murdered by a pervy serial killer. However, that’s never directly said in the lyrics. Maybe dying is a metaphor for simply being deflowered and losing her innocence. Jarvis sings “The world wants to sleep with you tonight” and punches right for the gut with “He only did what he did, ’cause you looked like one of his kids.”  Yes, her life could have been taken, or she might have had her virginity taken by someone with less than sincere intentions. It’s interesting to realize that I had immediately leapt to a reading that wasn’t concrete, if I listened to what was actually being said.

The Birds in Your Garden is nearly the opposite – the initial impression is that this is the story of a guy who is getting motivated to make the first move on a girl, but can’t quite get the nerve to, until he has an epiphany about life being short, and the listener thinks, “Hey, good job, dude!” as he seals the deal.

However, upon closer reading the lyrics become rather more disturbing. First, the perspective is very limited to just the guy’s vision. No clue is given as to the woman’s opinion of or response to anything; maybe she’s not as keen on his plan as he imagines her to be. The guy also notes he had an absentee father who never told him about the birds and the bees, raising concerns about the examples he’s had in his life. Further, the lyrics suggest (but don’t actually say) the guy woke up in the woman’s bed with her. He could also be some weirdo who had been stalking this woman, so he knows she’s still asleep and he’s rising early to go to her garden to think about doing more than stalking her this time. Then he hears voices (birds) telling him he shouldn’t be scared of his feelings about “taking her” and that he should be “touching her inside”.  At the end of the song, he goes to her bedroom and does “what’s only natural” but doesn’t actually say what that is – is it making sweet love to her or taking her life? I wish I had never thought of this, because the meaning of the song has totally changed since I did. However, I also love that Jarvis’ well-crafted lyrics can change over time.

Freelance Whales – Weathervanes

12 07 2012

Listened: Wednesday May 30

Freelance Whales’ Sufjan-Stevens-like gentle vocals, the use of plinky pianos, and the crafty album cover hit the twee switches. However, I don’t mean this in a derogatory fashion. I really enjoy listening to Weathervanes.

Location reminds me a bit of The Postal Service, as does the skittery-sweet sound of Starring. There are also constant references to creating music crossed with relationship angst – “You are somewhere in the basement, Beating on a makeshift drum kit” and “You could fake a melody, we could argue over where and when the cymbal hits should be” – if I had to guess I’d say the songwriter and his dream (or nightmare) girl are in the band together.

Idlewild – Warnings/Promises

1 07 2012

Listened: Wednesday May 30

I know I said The Remote Part is my favorite album, but as a result of repeated listenings for the project, I’ve really become fond of Warnings/Promises. It has great energy, whether Roddy is gently singing folkier songs (Welcome Home, Goodnight, Not Just Sometimes But Always) or more classic snarling rockers (I Want a Warning, The Space Between all Things). This album is one big singalong for me from start to finish.

As a Californian I love the El Capitan name-check in the song of the same name. Perhaps they’d better watch out for Roddy BASE-jumping it, judging by the lyrics. I’d watch that!