Friday, March 30, 2012

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 130: Spring Broke

I fear that the general lack of a proper winter has made the arrival of spring a bit less… awe-inspiring. It's a little hard to celebrate the season of nature's rebirth when nature was, y'know, basically limping along the whole time.

Still, I mark the change of another season because, in ways both subtle and obvious, it influences my listening habits.

That's just a part of my own natural cycle.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 130: Spring Broke [hosting provided by Antisoc] Size: 61.6 MB Running Time: 46:34 Subscribe to RFH

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah - "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
My boy Beefy recently got engaged. Congrats, homie!

Track 1: The BossFights – "Ctrl-Z"
"You can trim off the waste, and what's left? Excess."

Z's 1st interlude: "I am Z."
This is the tentative name of my forthcoming autobiography.

Track 2: Metaforce – "Subliminal (Style Wars Part 1)"
Thunderball of Metaforce/Southside was the original North American voice of Kid Icarus: Uprising's Pit. Sadly, he didn't make his way into the final retail release.

Track 2: Regular Show dialog / r_garcia – "Divergence"
I had no reason for putting that Regular Show sample in there, save for the fact that I find people saying "turd" repeatedly to be fuckin' hilarious.

Track 3: Adam WarRock – "Jane"
I've been sitting on a proper interview with Adam for few weeks now. I'll be sharing it soon.

Track 4: Richie Branson – "White Reflection"
Check out Richie's Wing Zero EP. Even if, like me, you totally couldn't follow the Gundam saga.

Track 5: Dethlehem – "Interlude I - A Mournful Discovery" / "Chasing the Keeper"
These cats are currently prepping for a summer tour. Please donate.

Z's 2nd interlude: "My first band of spring, if you will."
That's a thing, right?

Track 6: Anthrax – "New Noise"
The Refused original has been one of those songs I tend to revisit each spring. Now I do so in tandem with this amazing cover.

Track 7: the Mountain Goats – "Damn These Vampires"
This one's really more of a save-it-for-the-Halloween-show type of song, but I went with it anyway.

Track 8: Insane Ian – "Synthesizer (acoustic)"
Ian hipped me to this one via Twitter just a couple days back. It was exactly the song I needed to round out the episode.

Track 9: Benjamin Allen – "Apple Jack 101"
Yet another brony track that Church sent my way. I figured this show could use some more southern accents.

Z's final interlude: "I pray to all that is unholy."
I ain't even playin'; buy Worship Music!

Track 10: Supercommuter – "We're Watching You"
Wheelie and the crew are taking requests for PAX East. This seemed like something you should know.

I have a few simple rules regarding the manufacturing process of this podcast. The first is to always try and make it not suck. (I can't stress that one enough.) The second is to never be afraid to fuck with the audience.

Last ep. I set up the second set for maximum rockage by leading with a heavy metal rager. This time I used another metal banger but instead switched immediately to a mellow acoustic set.

It wasn't fair, but I admit it was kinda fun.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Pre-Fab Ten

When Davy Jones passed away last month my first instinct was to let my mom know. He and Peter Noone were her teen pop idols, and I knew his death would be news that she needed to hear. Preferably from someone who wouldn't mock her still admittedly juvenile taste in music.

My second was to make sure Marc with a C knew. The Monkees are a musical influence that this Orlando singer-songwriter still wears plainly on his sleeve, and I similarly surmised that it was passing of which he should be made aware. Preferably from someone who wouldn't mock his juvenile taste in music. #bazinga

Marc, of course, had already heard. He's a cat with an ear to the ground with regard to music news. (That's just one of our many commonalities.)

More importantly, it seems as though Marc with a C was already hard at work on a fitting tribute to a fallen hero. Good Clean Fun: Marc With a C Sings The Monkees! is a 10-song collection of cover songs from throughout the band's career. And, since this is Marc we're talking about, the project tends to linger over deep cuts.

He kicks things off with a pitch-perfect take on "The Porpoise Song," the theme from the film Head. He adds the odd bit of Jonathan Richman jangle to the affair, but it's exactly the type of cover that will strike a chord with classic fans. It's followed up by a thicker, more rocked-up take on "99 Pounds," one of the album's finest moments, as well as title track "Good Clean Fun." Marc excises a bit of the country-western flavor of the original, which is sorely missed, and in doing so he makes it almost too easy for younger fans to mistake this for a Marc with a C original.

"I Wanna Be Free" from The Monkees debut LP is a stripped-down affair that somehow manages to keep the delicate feel of the source material. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," alternately, slows down this cover of a cover… of a cover… for an even more sinister sound. Marc's take on "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" almost comes through as a bit too thin, but the natural percussion and resonance of its acoustic drive manage to transform it into something exquisite.

This plays well off a banjo-free interpretation of "You Told Me," among Marc's strongest two minute showings to date, and an even more southern-fried version of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones's "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" A gentle fade brings us to a very grimy "Writing Wrongs," a song I never cared for in its original form, but I find this one's creepy, experimental grind growing on me.

The closer is a plodding take on "Don't Bring Me Down" that crushes the 60s-pop-by-way-of-80s-soul feel of its Michael Nesmith-free inspiration. Easily the most ambitious track on the album, it admirably forges its own path even if it (like "Writing Wrongs" before it) monkeys—see what I did there?—with the two-and-a-half minute recipe for Monkee music greatness.

The Monkees were a fake band, a meticulously crafted charade designed to target a very specific demographic. They were the epitome of corporate music, designed by producers to generate profit and not art. But The Monkees rebelled. A band that the press—specifically the European press, which is known for being particularly nasty—lambasted as artistically bankrupt fought to not only be allowed to hewn their own craft, but to exercise control over their output.

The patently manufactured group that delighted the American youth audience (and made NBC a shit-ton of money) with their screwball faux-Beatles antics also went on to make the self-aware, feature length acid trip that was Head. The actor-vocalists that signed on to star in a musical sitcom turned on their handlers and began to take at least some semblance of control of their production, instrumentation and musical legacy.

In the contemporary world of reality television and auto-tuned radio hits, The Monkees should stand out as an attractive alternative, as soldiers that defected to the side of angels. But they don't. Their catalog is still viewed by the nostalgic old guard as a musical relic from a by-gone (read: better) era, yet aside from the brief and occasional resurgence contemporary acts fail to find inspiration in The Monkees rebellion. And they similarly neglect the pure pop perfection of the sounds of Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork and Jones often layered atop the lyrical musings of Carole King and Neil Diamond.

Except for Marc with a C. He knows. He sees. He understands. He is, if you'll pardon the cliché, a believer.