Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Favorite Things (8/20)

I haven't been blogging. That's okay; there's more to life. But I still like music, don't you worry--and this, listed below, is the music I've liked most recently. Some of it has just come out, some of it is old but I'm hearing it for the first time, and some of it is music I've liked in the past and am now revisiting. It's just fifteen pieces of good stuff.

Perhaps this is a feature that will pop up with some frequency on Il Buono, but I don't want to make any promises, because broken promises are disappointing, and I don't want to disappoint my legions of faithful readers... Anyways, here's some great music (listed in alphabetical order).

Autechre - Tri Repetae
Bobby Beausoleil & The Freedom Orchestra - Lucifer Rising OST
Chet Baker - Chet Baker Sings

Eternal Tapestry & Sun Araw - Night Gallery
The Germs - G.I.
Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain

Missy Elliott - "Work It"
Ricky Nelson - "Fools Rush In"
Rip Rig & Panic - God
White Mystery - "Overwhelmed"

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Favorite Acts at Lollapalooza 2011

The picture above is of Sebastien Grainger, bleached out drummer of Death From Above 1979--but more on that later...

Low expectations going into this year's Lolla; there just weren't many good artists playing. I'd like to say that my expectations were wrong, but--and I think you know where this going--they weren't. I made through all of Friday without seeing a great performance. Saturday and Sunday were better, but only in spurts. In a festival increasingly smitten with its own corporate ego (and humongous DJ tent), great live music has seem to fall a little by the wayside.

Yes, Lollapalooza as a festival has grown to be somewhat miserable. Between the giant logos above the stages, the bro-tastic (a.k.a. nauseating) football-field-sized Perry's tent, the near-unwalkable length of the park (I'm lazy...), and the crowd, which has far too high a contingency of lax bros and broettes, as well as people who've actually been tricked into thinking that Eminem is the greatest rapper ever. The only things that tend to make all this stuff tolerable are the food (Bonsoiree, Kuma's, Franks n Dawgs, etc.), the presence of my friends, and the presence of (usually) several truly great musical performances.

Well, as I've already mentioned, that last part--the musical aspect--was in shorter supply than ever this year, and, as a result, I'm only listing my six favorite acts of the festival whereas I usually do my top twelve. (Granted, there were some people I missed that I probably would've liked due to scheduling conflict or just oversight--and those regrets will also be listed below.) Anyways, these six shows were indeed quite good and helped mix up the monotony of lugging myself across the park to see forgettable indie bands and, uh, Cee Lo Green (terrible). They helped make 2011's Lollapalooza, as much a clusterfuck as it was (on several levels), actually a very fun weekend. Yes: fun.

But, alas, it wasn't the music, really, that made Lolla so enjoyable. Spending a weekend in Grant Park with all your friends is an undeniable recipe for happiness. While walking past Buckingham Fountain on Friday, my friend and I noticed that we hadn't seen any good music--but look at that freakin' skyline and this freakin' fountain and who we're with--how could you not be having an amazing time? This was a sentiment we spoke aloud, and a man walking next to us chimed in with fervent agreement. Look past the corporate vomit and you realize that there is no other place you'd rather be on a weekend in August.

And, before we count down the music, an anecdote: Sunday at around 5:30, it began to pour. Yes, excessive rain when there's no shelter may be looked upon as a bad thing (and it certainly was for both my phone and my newly-autographed Titus Andronicus LP), but a few of my buddies and I chose to soak (ha! pun) it in. We took off our shirts and shoes, climbed to the top of a small hill near the stage where Explosions In The Sky were set to play in about an hour, and began to slide down the hill--feet first, head first, somersaulting, rolling, etc. Before we knew it, an army of shirtless men (and some shirted women) followed suit. At least fifty people were talking advantage of this wet, grassy hill. A group of (intoxicated) guys rounded up the festival's trash cans and stacked them like vertical bowling pins as the group of hill sliders crashed into them and knocked them down. It was very communal, very in the spirit of what a music festival should offer. (Because we weren't dirty enough, my friend and I then proceeded to dance around in straight-up mud for a bit.) And then came the music--Explosions In The Sky--and it was beautiful, even if I'm not really a fan.

Anyhow, now it's time to actually look at the six best acts of the fest, and everybody knows what number one is...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Favorite Paul McCartney Songs

I saw Paul McCartney perform at Wrigley Field on Monday, and it was amazing. Now, I'm a sucker for reunion/old-person rock concerts (largely because I mostly listen to old music), but McCartney's show was even better than most. The man brought it for nearly three hours without stopping. His voice sounded good, the band sounded good, and, though the sound was a little muddy as it rang through Wrigley Field at the beginning, the best ballpark in the world turned out to be a pretty solid music venue.

Granted, it's a little easier to put on a good show when you're working with the material McCartney was. Few people can play a three hour set during which everyone in the crowd knows just about every word to every song. Sir Paul's catalogue is completely stacked--from his dozens of Beatles hits to handful of actually-good solo/Wings/Fireman tunes--and he showed that off in fine form (and with fireworks!). Post-show adrenaline forced me to prove how stacked his catalogue really is by compiling a list of my forty-five favorite Macca-penned songs.

Yes, all forty-five of the songs below are Beatles songs. McCartney's solo career has definitely had some high points, and I know and enjoy several of his hits--"Live and Let Die," "Jet," "Band On The Run," "Wonderful Christmastime," some others--but I don't have even close to as good a connection with any of his post-Beatles output as I do with this batch of Fab Four tracks.

Each of these songs was solely or primarily written by McCartney--and just about every one also features him on vocals. I think you'll notice as you look (and hopefully listen) to the songs listed below that McCartney not only wrote many of The Beatles' best songs, but he also has a very musicaly diverse canon. Many people think Lennon was the creative one, the visionary--but these songs (and many, many others) help illustrate McCartney's dedication to pushing the boundaries of pop music. That said, no matter how somber or druggy or psychedelic, there's a sweetness that runs through each song, a sincere quality that only McCartney really possessed among Beatles--and, really, a strength unique to him among almost all songwriters ever.

Many people think John to be by far the better songwriter of the two. I agree that he's better--his superior solo output and "Tomorrow Never Knows" prove that case--but not by far. Not at all. He and Paul wrote such amazing stuff--and evolved so much--because they were more or less equals, the two best songwriters in the world, each trying to figure out how to top the other. There's really no need to compare (everyone knows George is the best anyways). Just listen to these songs. Bask in the glow of (possibly) the greatest living pop songwriter--and, if possible, see him on his next tour.