Monday, December 29, 2008

The Wackiest, Weirdest Band Names of 2008

Amid all the top-10 lists of the best songs, albums, etc. of 2008, here's something completely different (as Monty Python would say). The Onion's AV Club has an article that takes a look at the many unusual, wierd, and just plain dumb band names it has encountered in 2008 (along with others that are just boring, odd, or lame).

2008: The Year in Band Names features categories such as Metal (or Metal-Sounding), Melodramatic Theater Nerd Names, Bad Attempts to Sound Funky, (Random Thing) and (Other Random Thing), and Just Plain Stupid.

Some samples: My Son My Executioner, Distorted Impalement, and Fecalized Rectal Sperm Spewage (all from the Metal category, naturally); Druids Of Huge and Vesperian Sorrow (Melodramatic category); and other memorable names such as Magically Delicious Smoking Skunk Monkey, Sh!tty Sh!tty Band Band, Vigo The Carpathian And The Thrash Money Millionairez, Steve E. Nix and The Cute Lepers, and Midnight Spaghetti And The Chocolate G-Strings.

The article features pithy commentary by the AV Club staff and links to many of the bands, so you can listen to the music thrown up by these bands... if you dare!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tom Moon's 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die

The end of the year is always a time for best-of lists, but here's a look at something with a slightly different twist. A few months ago music critic Tom Moon came out with a book called 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Though Moon is mostly a rock and pop critic, his book includes genres such as blues, classical, hip-hop, and even Latin dance music. The book is nearly 900 pages, and Moon includes explanations of why each selection made the list.

Moon discussed the book on NPR's All Songs Considered podcast (Moon is a music reviewer for the program, as well as a former music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer), along with some selections that didn't make the book. Moon also discusses the recordings at his site (above), where he has a blog on which he conducts an ongoing discussion about the 1,000 recordings as well as current music.

So while most radio stations and critics are examining the best and worst of 2008, it's interesting to consider the all-time best recordings, and what selections should or shouldn't be on that list.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Music News: Top Pop Tours of 2008, U2 to Tour Early 2009, and More

2008 may be nearing its end, but there's no shortage of music news this week:

* Top tours: New Jersey may get no respect from a lot of people, but its rock stars ruled the roost in terms of chart-topping tours in 2008. Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen had the top-grossing tours of the year, with Madonna and The Police taking the third and fourth spots.

* New U2 album: The Irish rockers show no signs of slowing down. There will be a new U2 album coming out in early March 2009, their record label says. The CD will be called "No Line On The Horizon," and you can bet there will be a world tour to support it.

* Coal in the music industry's Christmas stocking: It's shaping up to be another blue Christmas for music labels and retailers. Billboard reports that music sales were down nearly 22% in the first week of December compared to the same period last year. CD sales continue to drop, although it's noted that "hit albums are selling better this year than last."

* ... And in the odd news department: Headbanging is bad for your metal health: Australian study finds that music fans who engage in headbanging risk serious head and neck injury ... Miley Cyrus has been hired to perform at a Houston law firm's holiday party. She and her posse will get $1 million for the gig, but the party will benefit a charity ... rapper 50 Cent was spotted having a kind of car trouble in London recently: he locked the keys to his Rolls Royce inside the car. Don't you hate when that happens?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pylon Returns to New York - Knitting Factory Gig 12/15

I wouldn't call it a reunion tour yet, but legendary Athens, Georgia rock band Pylon has been playing out more and more in recent months. Most of the gigs were around the band's home base in the South, but they've also played shows in L.A. and San Francisco, but now they've added a New York City show tonight, Dec. 15th, at the Knitting Factory.

As with some of the previous shows, Pylon is one of a number of bands on the bill, though it would seem the highly influential rockers are the prime attraction of tonight's show (info and tickets), which is a celebration of the 35th anniversary of radio station WNYU. Also on the bill are Psychic Paramount, Christmas Decorations, Halflings, Grouper, Ehnahre, Zola Jesus, and Starkey.

I remember seeing Pylon play a great show at Maxwell's in Hoboken back in the early 1980s, and have a copy of their LP "Chomp" around my apartment (somewhere)...

Pylon reissued a remastered and expanded version of its debut album, "Gyrate," last year.

An interview Pylon did with the Village Voice sheds light on the band's history, and also includes a free download of the band's classic song "Cool."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eight Great Green Gadgets for Holiday Giving

Electronics and other gadgets are top items for gift giving, and the blog CleanTechnica has a page on the best "green gadgets" to put in someone's stocking (or a box). CleanTechnica, a part of the organization Green Options, shows items including a solar-paneled backpack, a power strip/surge suppressor that supposedly tells you how efficient your electrical devices are, a wind-powered cell phone charger, a water-powered clock, and more.

There are other ways to "green" your shopping for the holiday season (or any season); Apple claims its new MacBook and MacBook Pro computers are some of the most environment-friendly ever made, from an aluminum case to fewer toxic ingredients.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Beatles' White Album 40 Years Later

Yes, it's really been 40 years since the Beatles issues their landmark White Album (almost exactly--the record came out in November 1968) and NPR's All Songs Considered takes an interesting look back at how this seminal record came to be.

It looks at the band's trip to India [to record the album] andf the many disparate factors at work during the White Album's creation, from the band's impending collapse to disputes with the Maharishi Yogi to oddities such as some band members' unhappiness with the food.

All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen talks with Bruce Spizer, author of The Beatles on Apple Records, in a one-hour conversation about the White Album. The podcast features a number of excerpts from demo sessions for the album, including some unreleased tracks. You can download the podcast or stream the show online, and also check out other Beatles-related podcasts on the site.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Odetta, Folksinger and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 77

Odetta Holmes, the black folksinger who was a civil rights activist for decades, has died at the age of 77. She passed away at Lenox HIll Hospital in New York. Although she was classically trained, Odetta (who performed using only her first name), sang in the blues, folk, and gospel genres.

The L.A. Times has a good article on Odetta, and notes that she was cited as an influence on performers ranging from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to Janis Joplin and Tracy Chapman.

Farewell, Odetta. You will be very much missed.