Stand Back by Stevie Nicks
As a member of Fleetwood Mac, one of the few 1970s stadium rock staples to voluntarily embrace the medium of music video before MTV launched, Stevie Nicks was already a seasoned video star by 1983. In fact, her face was one of the earliest to appear in regular rotation on the new music channel, swinging her Bo Derek-style hair beads alongside Tom Petty in “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Two years later, Nicks heard Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on the car radio, raced home and wrote “Stand Back,” a techno-pop/r&b/rock treat which she categorizes as “a dancing song.” (Yes, that is the Purple One himself playing keyboards on “Stand Back” – though he does not appear in the clip.)
In the first in an ongoing series, CC2K Music Editor Jimmy Hitt breaks down everything you need to know about a band, so you can fully appreciate both the artist, and the art. In this installment, Jimmy becomes the MFWIC, and teaches about M.I.A.
Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles
In the late 1970s, things were simpler. European musicians with dreams of making it big in America often hired aspiring film directors to tape or film crude advertisements for their songs as a way of promoting themselves. Bands that could not afford to travel and perform in the US (or couldn’t get booked because they were unknown), could easily send videotapes oversees – and the music video was born.
Fortunately for the foreign acts, it turned out that many Americans enjoyed watching these strange little films set to even stranger, often synthesizer-heavy, music. But where to see them? Initially the cable channel Nickelodeon ran daily 30-minute installments of videos, and from time to time the networks even aired them on Saturday mornings – a sort of New Wave alternative to School House Rock. It wasn’t until midnight on Saturday, August 1st, 1981 that America finally hit the jackpot: 24 hours, 7 days a week of nonstop music videos on a channel called MTV, Music Television.
With their now-trademark iron lung rhythm section and always hyper-creative sound amalgams left wholly intact from 2005’s frequently awesome Feels, Animal Collective have officially created a career album. Strawberry Jam will most certainly be hailed as a major triumph come September 2007 and rightfully so— it’s by far the most consistently rewarding listen of the Baltimore band’s career and should be considered a top ten contender for album of the year. That is, if Panda Bear—Animal Collective’s drummer, Noah Lennox—doesn’t beat his own band with his equally miraculous Person Pitch.
I think Lifehouse as a band are schizophrenic. Which I mean as a compliment. On their records so far they always chose to show only one of their two personalities (rock or pop) and ultimately always left someone displeased. But the new album Who We Are intensifies their schizophrenic condition and they can’t keep both Lifehouse personas from coming out to play. Which is a blessing.
Bear with me on the analogy here: I mean, honestly, you release a self-titled album, Lifehouse, in 2005, and it’s pop-y, smooth, melodic and almost boy band material. And then two years later, in 2007, you release an album called Who We Are and it’s edgy , rock-y, eerily haunting and still melodic. But wait, I thought you guys were Lifehouse and therefore the album called Lifehouse was supposed to be who you are, but now Who You Are is who you are? I am confused.
Let me elucidate my own mind.
“…it seems a lot harder to make records that sound good than it should be. When you listen to most of the records that really had an impact on you, they always seem to be from a different era. And it really felt like nobody was making records that sounded like that anymore. I still don't think that this record sounds as good as that period of music. I still don't have any clue why. All I'm saying is I feel like we've gotten close enough for it to be comfortable to listen to.” – Jeff Tweedy, Pitchfork Interview, 5-8-07
A great divide exists between so-called “classic rock” and what is regrettably labeled “alternative” or “experimental” these days. Much like subduction zones in plate tectonics, it seems that around 1979—with the release of Joy Division’s landmark album Unknown Pleasures—what passed for radio, and subsequently established the foundations of modern classic rock, suddenly was crushed by the specter of The Next Big Thing. Sure, this type of sales & marketing had been going on for years, but radio was still playing bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols, despite their artsy or noisy inclinations.
Last year, a Youtube.com documentary on Modest Mouse’s early career circulated that saw Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch laud the band almost uncontrollably. This interview represents about 1% of the praise heaped on Isaac Brock and Co. during the Rick Madsen-helmed mini-doc, but it serves to remind us all that, even a good 7 years before “Float On”—the band’s breakthrough mega-hit—Modest Mouse was dropping some iron anchors of respect within the indie rock community. And this was all before their landmark LP Lonesome Crowded West was released.
Modest Mouse would never be the same following 1997. Their sound started to congeal and remain absolutely consistent on the following albums and EPs, so witnessing the major and minor quirks and their evolution on this documentary is definitely worth it if you are a big fan or even a quiet observer.
No surprise: James Hittinger kicks off CC2k's new music section with a profile of an unsung musician.
Ever get the feeling that CC2k is fast becoming an electromagnet for disaffected literature hounds? Indeed, recent forum discussions continually stray further and further from the “movie geek” mold into topics as lanky as, well, literature itself. Perhaps if one distilled our society’s basic entertainment mediums into one art form, literature doth lay at its core, methinks. But who among us in the States or even abroad emphasizes literature’s importance to pop culture as much as the English majors among us? Hell, I moved around quite a bit as a wee lad and only a handful of schools even trotted out this most elemental of studies along with the typical core subjects.
Remarkably, one of the last bastions of civilization in the South, Memphis, Tenn., doesn’t even teach English, Foreign Languages, or Algebra until ninth grade. My seventh grade “English” teacher was the first person to use the English books that stayed dusty and wrapped in plastic, stacked in the corner of our room under posters of great Southern writers like Truman Capote and William Faulkner.