You’ve probably already noticed that we’ve elected rock-legends-in-waiting The Stone Foxes as our Artist Of The Month. We’ve got all sorts of great Stony Foxy stuff heading your way – starting with this great playlist of the band’s favorite songs. Enjoy!
Blues, rock and country – they’re labels so simultaneously vague yet culturally ingrained that sometimes they seem to have lost all meaning. Pretty much any guitar based album in existence – and, to some extent, a number of genre-fusing hip-hop and electronic projects too – carry elements of this all-American heritage, be they proudly displayed as centerpiece artistic choices or tucked away as subtle undercurrents. Whether it’s sound, attitude, aesthetic, or a combination of all three … there are certain touchstones guitar music will always have to adhere to. Its just part of the deal, folks.
With this in mind, it’s easy to come to a natural conclusion: that to define a band as ‘blues-rock’ with hints of ‘country’ is to render them somewhat unremarkable. A drop in the ocean. A thumbprint on a skyscraper. In some cases (hell, let’s say in most cases) this wouldn’t be too far from the truth. In the case of California’s foot-stomping avengers The Stone Foxes, however, listeners can rest assured that their sound – while steeped in the vast, winding heritage mentioned above – is far from generic. Let’s put it bluntly: a rock to the head has always been a rock to the head since the first brawl between two cavemen. That doesn’t mean a perfectly-placed rock to the head in 2012 doesn’t carry with it a real fucking impact. Some things just don’t seem to mellow with age.
The Stone Foxes throw out rock with a capital R, blues with a capital B, and country with … well, maybe an odd smattering of uppercase font. Put it all together, and you’ll no longer be interested in literary deconstruction anyway – you’ll be too busy (in the time-honoured fashion of another American tradition) throwing your hands in the air like you just don’t care.
The phrase ‘Big in Japan’ has always been a bit condescending. Being successful there is supposed to be easy, because of the island’s famed love for anything different and western. The stock description has also been used to imply the artist in question just isn’t very good. But we hear it less and less, as the so-called borderless internet makes it impossible for stars to moonlight as rubber duck pedlars and credible musicians (check the two shameful examples below).
Are the musicians who only become successful abroad actually less cool? Is it just harder to get a successful career off the ground in the diminished pop markets of the US and the UK? And does it even matter anymore where you’re successful, when the music industry is in such a fragile state?
Many a fight breaks out in the BAMM.tv office when it comes to the ‘who gets to ride the segway on their lunch break’ debate. Not the most blistering of confrontations, sure, but such arguments can’t help but make us think about some of the more epic feuds in the scrap-happy world of rock and roll. Here’s a look at five of the ‘best’ …
5. Jarvis Cocker vs Michael Jackson
Possibly the last time anything even remotely exciting happened at annual blandfest The Brit Awards – in 1996, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker grew tired of Michael Jackson’s messianic posturing during a performance of ‘Earth Song’, and proceeded to mimic the time-honored tradition of ‘farting in his general direction.’ Arrest and subsequent media frenzy ensued.
4. Jay Z vs Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher is not impressed with the fact that hip-hop megastar Jay-Z has been booked for (traditionally guitar-led) UK festival Glastonbury. Gallagher states this on several high-profile occasions. Jay-Z responds by emerging onstage to a sneering version of Gallagher’s ballad ‘Wonderwall’, thereby stepping the rivalry up a notch.
3. Courtney Love vs Dave Grohl
Where to start? Walking issue-magnet Courtney Love has long voiced her disdain for the ex-bandmate of her late husband Kurt Cobain, claiming – among other things – that Grohl has no legal stake in any of Nirvana’s creative output. Grohl maintained his image as the ‘nicest guy in rock’ by staying silent in public, commenting only via songs like ‘Let It Die’ (above).
2. Dandy Warhols vs Anton Newcombe
A rivalry so lengthy and intense it fuelled ‘Dig’, an entire documentary feature. While the Dandy Warhols are not known for being shrinking violets, their number one competitor Anton Newcombe (whose group The Brian Jonestown Massacre were tipped as being as big as the Dandies) is a full-on whirlwind of animosity and drama-queen tantrum.
1. Megadeth vs Metallica
After being kicked out of Metallica, Dave Mustaine went on to form Megadeth – one of the biggest, most successful, iconic metal bands in the world. It’s very telling that – despite this achievement – his resentment towards his former bandmates simmered nicely for the best part of two decades …
Hope you’re enjoying our season of cool stuff from our Artist Of The Month Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – and we really hope you’ll keep your beady eyes on BAMM.tv towards the end of this week, when we’ll be unveiling an exclusive competition to win some personalised merchandise from the band themselves!
In the meantime, we’ve got something else very cool to share – we asked lead singer Thao Nyugen to pick her five favorite performances from the sprawling (and awesome, and amazing, and exclusive, and numerous other descriptive terms) BAMM.tv archives. Here are her choices:
Will Sprott – A Dog Will Love You When Nobody Else Will
A dog will indeed love you when no-one else will. Unless of course they’re those hell hounds from the end of Ghostbusters. You want to avoid those.
Tambores Julio Remelexo – Go Down
Ironically you won’t be feeling down after chilling out to this …
Forro Brazuca- Salsa De Reboco
Time to swing the night (or afternoon) away with these salsa shenanigans.
Lulacruza- Rio Contento
Enjoy the multi-layered melodies of this dynamic duo.
Great Lake Swimmers – Still
A memorable and moving song from their legendary performance at the 2011 BAMM.tv showcase at the SXSW festival.
The eagle-eyed among you (well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration – we’ll just settle for ‘those among you who have taken a look at our blog this past week’) will know that alt-folk-rock stars Thao & The Get Down Stay Down have taken the throne as our coveted Artist Of The Month.
As usual, then, we want to find out which tunes are tickling their earbuds right now. So we asked frontwoman Thao Nyugen to spill the beans. Here’s her top five …
Aha- “Take On Me’
Classic 80s pop with one of the best videos ever made.
Some bands are just too good to actually exist – should their awesomeness manifest itself in the real world, chances are the very fabric of reality could collapse in on itself. Maybe. Probably. Look, we haven’t researched the scientific logistics of the whole thing. We’re not Stephen Hawking, you know.
Take our hand (come on, its still not summer yet, you could use the body warmth) and join us for a rundown of the Top 5 Greatest Fictional Bands in history …
(Note: we decided not to include Spinal Tap in this list, because that would possibly be the most obvious thing ever, and we’re nothing if not contrary).
5. Wyld Stallyns – ‘Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure’
Okay, so they can’t actually play (despite a plot device in which their future songwriting skills help unite the planet in peace) but we’ll be damned if an evening at a Bill and Ted gig wouldn’t be the best party this side of 1988.
4. The Soggy Bottom Boys – ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’
George Clooney gets in touch with his bluesgrass side – with remarkable singalong results – in The Coen Brothers’ 2000 comedy masterwork.
3. Three Times One Minus One – ‘Mr Show’
Hilariously bad spoof act from comic geniuses David Cross and Bob Odenkirk (whose TV comeback in recent years has seen him killing it in ‘Breaking Bad’). If these guys actually existed, there’s no doubt that even whistling one of their tunes would get you laid in a heartbeat.
2. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – ‘The Muppet Show’
Our furry friends rock out to the utmost.
1. The Commitments – ‘The Commitments’
Often regarded as the best Irish film of all time, it’s very telling that the producers placed musical ability at the top of their casting wish-list. They wished, and they most certainly got it.
‘Get down, stay down’ may sound like a direct command (imagine your clichéd ‘give me fifty’ drill instructor barking it in your ear) – but such straightforward bludgeoning really isn’t the style of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, the San Francisco act who just happen to be BAMM.tv’s new Artist Of The Month.
This isn’t to say that there’s no immediacy to their music. Thao Nyugen and her mainstay cohort Adam Thompson (the band members have previous included Frank Stewart and Willis Thompson) have crafted a body of work which – while loosely fitting within umbrella terms like alt-rock and folk-rock – opens up with multiple listens to reveal rewarding intricacies, unique vocal and musical flourishes, and melodies within melodies.
You may think you’re getting everything with a surface listen – and an enjoyable surface listen it definitely is – but sentiments like ‘you are a dead man/I just have to shoot the gun’ (‘Body’) and ‘I come back because the punches always hit the same’ (‘Trouble Was For’) show off a beguiling complexity. Think of similar creative multi-taskers like Broken Social Scene, Jim Ward, Cat Power, Fiona Apple and Feist – not a bad line-up to be mentioned alongside – and you’ll be close.
Or, y’know, just listen to them. (click ‘more’ to continue)
Woah, woah, woah – we never said that ‘weird’ meant ‘bad’. There are few stranger combinations than British electro-anarchists the KLF and old dame of country Tammy Wynette, but when they unleashed ‘Justified And Ancient’ in 1991, they produced the catchiest tune of the year.
4. Gwyneth Paltrow And Huey Lewis
Whereas this? Yep, this is bad. Vey bad.
3. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony And Phil Collins
For those of you (and I’m assuming there must be many) whose abiding memory of Phil Collins is that ‘No Jacket Required’ was the only cassette in your parents’ car, watching him bust some moves alongside the Bone Thugs is somewhat disconcerting.
2. Eminem and Elton John
Marshall tries to stave off accusations of homophobia by performing a live Grammy duet with Elton John. Then spends the next few years trying to stave off accusations of awful, awful ideas for collaborations.
1. Buzz Aldrin and Snoop Dogg
Yes, you read that right. Buzz Aldrin and Snoop Dogg.
Here’s another of our in-depth articles from our London-based correspondent Zakia Uddin. This time, she looks at the increasingly prevalent modern phenomenon of the comeback artist …
Justin Timberlake announced his comeback this year – yes, JT. Put it this way, the 32-year-old’s first release was back when Dubya had been in power for less than a year and the first dot com bubble had just exploded (‘Like I Love You’, below).
The comeback has always occupied a special place in the world of music. Unlike political comebacks, musical ones rarely the same renewed vigor. You don’t humour a politician (or at least we don’t think we do) but the force of nostalgia is enough to get people excited about a singer or band’s return. We’re never quite sure whether to take it seriously – arguably, we’re even more cynical about musicians’ abilities than we are about those of politicians. Will they be as passionate as they used to be? What if they aren’t as good as we remember? What does that say about us? Worst of all, they remind of us how old we’re getting.
There was a more (or less) cynical time – depending on your point of view – when making a comeback was like doing an encore. Or comebacks were only for the kind of musicians who did encores, who couldn’t get enough, and were willing to spin out the old hits for an unimaginative audience. So what’s changed? It’s a real truism that touring is the only way to generate money – correspondingly many bands have sucked it up and gone touring together, including legendary fall-outs like the Stone Roses (below).
Generally, rock music comebacks have always seemed more dignified. It involves a different kind of struggle, as though they just didn’t want to come back until they were truly inspired. Click on ‘more’ to continue!