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Vol 3 No. 6 ///// July 2011

LABORER OF LOVE The Story of St. Louis Folksinger Cassie Morgan LOOKING AHEAD TO RED SKY PLUS:

80 MINUTES OF MUSIC

That Need to Be Retired


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR DOES ANYONE

want to sign my petition to make it illegal for Kevin James to make more movies? Or at least these "creators of Paul Blart: Mall Cop", as if that were something to advertise in a trailer. I've just begun on a tangent, and I haven't even started. So let me first apologize for our tardiness and assure you that things will run on schedule from now on. I'm thrilled to present this issue, which features Mike Sueper's (our newest IF contributor) thoughts on Omaha's upcoming Red Sky Festival, as well as the cover interview with St. Louis folksinger Cassie Morgan. The photo shoot was done by past IF contributor and friend Nate Burrell, also from St. Louis. Also, we present IF's Capsule Review debut, with four brief film reviews by Rob DeStefano. For the rest of the info, I direct you to the Table of Contents, just a few short pages away. Thanks for all your support, and keep your eyes open for IF ads, as we will be launching our first ever ad campaign so that maybe more people will start knowing about us. Oh, and if you're interested in helping out with that at all, please write us at info@inflatableferret.com. Thanks so much again for all the support, and stay cool!

james passarelli

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CONTENTS

Vol 3 No. 6 ///// July 2011 FEATURE

06

Tampering with the Classics: Ryan Waring rearranges the tracklist of the Pixies' Doolittle, plus Mike Sueper assesses Omaha's Red Sky Festival as it happens

REVIEWS

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Reviews for Bon Iver, My Morning Jacket, Thurston Moore, The Tree of Life and more

INTERVIEW

14

IF tells the story of budding singer-songwriter Cassie Morgan

PLAYLIST

28

80 Minutes of songs we'd like to hang up for good


OUR STAFF

ISSUE CONTRIBUTORS Editor-in-Chief

Copy Editing

James Passarelli

Pat Passarelli Ainsley Thedinger

Design Kathryn Freund

Photography Nate Burrell

Featured Writers

We gladly welcome any criticism or suggestions. If you have any ideas for the magazine, or if you would like to be a part of it, please contact us at: info@ inflatableferret.com.

Rob DeStefano James Emerson James Passarelli Ray Saada Asif Siddiqi Mike Sueper Ryan Waring

CONTACT US via Email

via Interweb

GENERAL INQUIRIES info@inflatableferret.com

WEBSITE www.inflatableferret.com

TOM KUTILEK tom@inflatableferret.com HANS LARSEN hans@inflatableferret.com JAMES PASSARELLI james@inflatableferret.com RYAN WARING ryan@inflatableferret.com

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Copyright © 2011 Inflatable Ferret

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Keep your eyes peeled for daily news & updates on the website!


Music, Film, Etc. No Hot Air. www.inflatableferret.com


06FEATURE

THE RED SKY MUSIC FESTIVAL A GUIDE TO RUNNING YOUR MUSIC FESTIVAL INTO THE GROUND Words: Mike Sueper


ON DECEMBER

15, 2010, the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA), along with Live Nation, announced plans to stage a six day music festival to take place this Monday through Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park and the surrounding Qwest Center property in Omaha, Nebraska. The news release boasted that the inaugural Red Sky Music Festival was to bring the top entertainment and breakout artists to Omaha, and was to feature artists of all genres. Although Omaha was already home to the modest, indie Maha Music Festival (now in its third year), Omaha residents and music fans were excited at the enormous potential that Red Sky held. After all, in a December Omaha World Herald article, MECA president Roger Dixon stated “We’d like to follow the format of something like Summerfest in Milwaukee.” Omaha music fans immediately surmised which acts might be headed to the Heartland, excited

by the possibilities of an even larger festival to bring the city further festival exposure. One radio advertisement even claimed it would make the Heartland city “the music capital of the world. So how did a music festival with such promise become such an unmitigated disaster? Why is there so much resentment towards the organizers of a music festival that has yet to occur? Let’s compare it to other summer and spring music festivals. Festivals such as Pitchfork, Coachella, Bonnaroo, and the Newport Folk Festival give music fans a chance to see some of the best acts in music today while also gaining invaluable exposure for new and rising artists. Festivals like these make an effort to provide an enjoyable, unique experience for reasonably affordable prices, there are countless other music festivals saturating the market only looking to find a niche and make a quick dollar.

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feature


Get ready to up jump the boogie with Kid Rock on Wednesday July 20th.

RED SKY belongs

to the latter category. While the aforementioned festivals are organized by people who are passionate about music and involved in music promotion companies (Bonnaroo: AC Entertainment, Coachella: AEG Live, Pitchfork: Pitchfork Media, Newport: Newport Festivals Foundation). MECA, on the other hand, is a nonprofit organization in charge of running Qwest Center Omaha, Omaha Civic Auditorium, and TD Ameritrade Park (the new $131 million ballpark built to house the NCAA College World Series, which will sit vacant for most of the year). While MECA has had no prob-

08 feature

lem filling the Qwest Center’s 17,000 seats (in 2005 they were ranked eighth of one hundred in Pollstar’s Magazine’s study of top ticket selling arenas in the world), the brand new baseball stadium put the pressure on once again. With the thought of the ballpark sitting idle, MECA needed to be aggressive and find ways to use it. So they explored the idea of a music festival and sent officials to Summerfest in Milwaukee (the largest music festival in the world) and a concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago during the summer of 2010. While in attendance they took notes about the logistics of running such events and how they

were setup and the stages used. The music festival was finally announced to the public on Dec. 15, 2010. Problems and frustration occurred in the following months. January 19, 2011 Coachella Music Festival announces their initial lineup. Fans rejoice. February 15: Bonnaroo Music Festival announces their initial lineup. Fans rejoice. Feb. 16: I send an email to Red Sky inquiring when they would announce their lineup. The following day the response e-mail says they will announce their lineup in March. March 4, 2011 Pitchfork announces their initial lineup. Fans rejoice. Many local music fans who were


initially excited about Red Sky are left frustrated by MECA’s inability to announce a lineup. They decry how MECA is being inconsiderate to fans that are trying to plan summer vacations and deciding whether to take off work in late July so they can attend the music festival. May 2 (nearly three months after the projected announcement date): Red Sky announces its first headlining act, 311, to mixed reactions. Two days pass before three more acts are announced. This process continues for three more weeks. Fans have become infuriated that they have waited so long for a lineup that is considered a disaster. Although MECA had partnered with Live Nation to book acts for the festival, it is likely that began trying to book acts too late in the process. By the time they had announced the existence of the festival, other festivals across the country had already spent months booking acts. The end result was anything but satisfying: headliners Kid Rock, Journey, Tonic, Better than Ezra, and the Zac Brown Band more than make up for the few high quality acts (Buddy Guy and George Clinton among them). Another aspect that festival organizers probably had not planned on being seen as a negative was their ticket pricing. Whereas music festivals like Pitchfork and Bonnaroo sell day passes or a three day pass for the whole festival at a set price. MECA is charging $15 for a day pass to stages B and C or $30 for a three day pass, and $60 for a six day pass, none of which includes a ticket for the main stage. Depending on who is headlining, you will be expected to pay between $25-$35 for 311 and Sublime with Rome or $25$125 for Journey with Night Ranger. The MECA public relations department has conducted their jobs in such an inconceivable manner that it leaves little doubt as to why so many people view this festival as a disaster. As fans of music, we can only hope that the organizers of future festivals can learn from the mistakes of MECA and the Red Sky Music Festival so that they are not repeated again. Great music festivals are created by those who are passionate about music and know

Yup. 311 is headlining Red Sky's Main Stage on Tuesday July 19th.

“ Great music

festivals are created by those who are passionate about music and know better than to alienate their potential patrons.” better than to alienate their potential patrons. Profit has driven Red Sky, and I would put my money on its failure. Maybe after a disastrous inaugural year, Red Sky will back off and let its older, smaller brother Maha grow without being stifled by financial concerns. IF

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10

Tampering with the Classics

THE PIXIES'

DOOLITTLE ring Words: Ryan Wa


T S I L K C A R T E L T

T T I L O DO ) 9 8 ' A (CIRC

Hey ne o G ey ven k n o M o Hea t

aser 1. Deb e n 2. Tam of Mutilatio e 3. Wav d e Man 4. I Ble omes Your eC 5. Her eaven d H a e o t D . e 6 ey Gon k n o M 7. ieves r G . r 8. M Jones y t i k c a 9. Cr ve You o L a L 10. La 3 Baby un .1 11. No e Goes My G er 12. Th y 13. He r ve 14. Sil e Away ug 15. Go

ve o L a LaL You

THE FERRET is prepped to embark on a new expedition. What would this world be had Columbus never wept as he first crossed the Rubicon? Or if Da Vinci had never flown too close to the sun in his pursuit of flight? Or if Galileo never dared take his first step on the moon? Thankfully, we won't ever have to know, because humanity refuses to be confined by its apparent limitations and doesn't care to piss off a couple naysayers. As humans, we at the Inflatable Ferret can't help but embrace our pompous urge to zealously defy the dissenters, and so we've ridden that characteristic to a new level of arrogance we call "Tampering With the Classics". In this infant series, we will revise the albums those humbler might deem "unrevisable" had they the gall like us to make up a word. Perhaps in our wanton disregard for post-modern scripture, you might think we have debased (you'll see what

I just did there in a second) these canons like we have our history. To ease your outrage, just think of these segments as the results of an alternate universe where we actually have the talent, originality and creativity to produce such great recordings. Maybe in the next life. We will commence with a less offensive revision: the Pixies' 1989 sophomore studio release, Doolittle, a verifiable alternative masterpiece and seminal impetus for a plethora of 90s garage bands. I say "less offensive" because I opted to retain all fifteen tracks from the album (which I won't always feel obliged to do). Fifteen tracks may be excessive in most cases, but not when none cracks the four minute mark. Each song also exhibits some semblance of pop influence and all are decidedly self-contained, which makes the order of the tracks less objective. That said, I've taken my best attempt to prove otherwise.

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1

“ Here Comes Your Man”

2

4

Just get it out of the way. Cf. Pavement’s live show treatment of “Cut Your Hair.” “Here Comes Your Man” was the catchiest and most lighthearted song Black Francis ever penned: a great way to open an album without alienating listeners immediately.

“I Bleed” And just like that, we begin to alienate. I can’t deny the fantastic juxtaposition produced by placing these songs back to back. Start with cheerful pop and quickly shift to something dark and volatile.

“ 3 ”

Debaser

“Crackity Jones

Now that Francis’ vocal chords are sufficiently strained from “Debaser”, let’s keep the momentum going. Lots of power in a short punch—more than worthy of the cleanup spot.

5

“Hey” Braggadocio straight to ballad, “Hey” is minimalist beauty. Kim Deal’s bass line soothes and grooves simultaneously.

7

Can’t let this one slip to the back of the album. “Debaser” is an attention grabber and a home run, and doesn’t everyone else liken track numbering and baseball lineups like I do?

6

“There Goes My Gun”

More an interstitial than anything else, “There Goes my Gun” gives a jolt after “Hey”. Its titular mantra is also a nice intro for the next track.

“Silver” While I reject the idea that Deal’s a better writer than Black (sorry, love), I can’t deny that her pen gives each album a perfect Side A closer.

12 feature


8

“Mr.

Grieves

9

And the muted chords that open “Mr. Grieves” set an ominous tone for the latter half, an assortment of songs that, like this track, repeatedly reference oceanic, divine and death motifs.

10“

Dead

The sexist subtext, present or absent, of “Tame” makes a suitable litmus test for a case study in the biblical story of David and Bathsheba on “Dead”.

“Tame” The cons of being a music lover in the digital age: I thought Doolittle had fourteen tracks and no “Tame” for years. When I heard it in the two-hole for the first time— even with plenty of Pixies familiarity—it shook my teeth. The best representation of the group’s renowned loud/ soft dynamic is the perfect chaser to “Mr. Grieves” and a fortuitous omen for the album’s end.

11

“LaLa Love You”

“Gouge Away”

12

1 3 “

“Dead” and “Gouge Away” are obvious complements. So what better way to transition two peculiar biblical stories than to let drummer David Lovering take the mic for a parody of sappy, selfaware love songs? It makes Pixies sense.

The biblical tale of Samson and Delilah, via the unpredictable mouthpiece sometimes named Black Francis. That whammy bar coda of the former closing track kicks perfectly into the first note of “No. 13 Baby”.

No. 13 Baby Duh.

15

14“

Monkey Gone to Heaven

“Wave of

Mutilation

Deal’s bass line here bears an uncannily resemblance to the outro of its predecessor. But don’t think “Monkey Gone to Heaven” is here by default. This anthem carries the second half and thrives as the penultimate track.

Maybe it’s just because “goodbye” is uttered in the first stanza, but this song just feels like a nice, surreal postscript for the album.

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14INTERVIEW

Laborer of Love How St. Louis Folksinger

Cassie Morgan Destroys the Myth of the Lazy Musician

INTERVIEW: James Passarelli // PHOTOGRAPHY: Nate Burrell

AS FAR BACK

as I can remember, I had always looked up to great nonclassical musicians for their creativity and skill, but never for their proclivity to strenuous labor or tiring hours. Long hours on tour buses, I understood, were part of the job description, but the very concept of a band was created by men and women who found it impossible to hold a nine-to-five. Indeed, the myth of the lazy musician—which, for me, was

not wholly debunked until recent years—is ever present. Biopics and news headlines of rock’s most conspicuous personalities in the 60s and 70s unsurprisingly incited the pigeonholing of all musicians as lazy or self-indulgent for decades to come. Any artwork or performance requires a measure of self-indulgence, yes. And we all know a guy who dedicates more than his timeshare to revealing the

“moving” powers of his music. As for the headlines, it is probably best not to borrow Brian Jones or Ozzy Osbourne’s moral compasses for a camping trip. It’s all too easy to forget that you and I haven’t heard of the vast majority of musicians, that most of them don’t have a salary. And that the majority of them have fulltime jobs. St. Louis folksinger Cassie Morgan reminded me of this fact when I talked to her a few days ago.


WHEN I asked Morgan what

she liked about her city’s music scene, she listed a handful of bands (Kentucky Knife Fight, The Blind Eyes, and Sleepy Kitty among them) that she praised for their unique sounds, their exceptional live shows, and, most importantly, for their strong work ethics. An underrated representative— and now veteran—of her beloved city’s music life, the twenty-nine year old knows a thing about work ethic herself. Born in Bonnie, Illinois (present population: somewhere near 400), Morgan was far removed from the creative forces that flooded the oldies pop radio station her mother would listen to in the car. And there weren’t many opportunities to extend her music tastes any further. “I always had an interest in music, but being from such a small town, we didn’t have a lot of resources. At my grade school, we didn’t have music classes or anything.” Still, between the numerous country pop radio stations that reached Bonnie and her parents’ modest music collection, Morgan had an eclectic, if unconventional, listening foundation. “We had a record player growing up, but the only records we had that I remember were Alabama, the Chipmunks, and the Beatles’ Blue Album [1967-1970]. There wasn’t a particular taste that my parents really followed.” Well before her own taste had begun to develop, Morgan found she had a penchant for music of any kind. Without having anything to play, she satisfied her urge the only way she knew how: by singing at church. And it wasn’t until she turned sixteen that she decided to take up an instrument; since her great uncle owned a small guitar shop nearby, it seemed the most logical thing on which to spend her past several years’ birthday money.

16 interview

an m fro to ha re

Franz Nicolay looking stylish and Chaplin-esque. (Photo: Miles Kerr)


“ I always had

n interest in music, but being om such a small own, we didn’t ave a lot of esources.”

Morgan and The LONELY PINE bandmate Beth Bombara with the tools of the trade.

17

interview


18 interview

Her brother Chad was soon to follow, trying his hand at the drums and guitar himself. “We probably pushed the limits of our parents' sanity while sitting in the living room playing our respective guitars over the conversation or television in the background,” Morgan recalls fondly of her early rock star days. In 2000 Morgan left to attend Greenville College, a small liberal arts school just an hour north of Bonnie, but her studies in biology and psychology, and a semester abroad in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, left little time for extracurriculars. The latter, however, caused her to take her first ever plane ride, and she soon realized a strong desire to share her talent and passion with international communities, as well as struggling members of her own Midwestern community. Without a solid plan after graduating, Morgan traveled ninety miles southwest to St. Louis to live with a friend and experience her first months in an American city. With no rent to pay and few responsibilities outside applying for graduate school, she set out reading all the books she could find and took her music hobby to another level, devouring stacks of CDs and tiring her fingers on the guitar. In the birthplace of Scott Joplin’s iconic “The Entertainer,” a city flush with roots music history, it was inevitable that jazz and blues would find their way into Morgan’s musical conscience. Indeed, her first love of the genres hit quickly and forcefully. The alternately soothing and haunting voices of Billie Holiday and Etta James and Dave Brubeck’s signature-shifting classics stood out among the catalogue of historical jazz figures with which she familiarized herself. These and other early pioneers bolstered Morgan’s growing suspicion that songwriting was more than a passing phase. More importantly, though, they gave her a greater sense of her limitations, or lack thereof. “I think in the beginning it came sort of naturally. I didn’t have any agenda in saying, ‘I’m going to write songs.’ But the more time that I was able to spend just sitting with the

guitar in solitude, the more natural it felt. And I think once I developed my own playing style, I was able to tinker with the melodies and experiment to find out the best keys for my voice." “I always enjoyed singing, but having only sung in church, all of the songs were written in keys in which the female vocalist sings really high. And I always had a really hard time with it because I don’t have a very high voice. So it was this interesting discovery that, while I couldn’t control my voice, I could figure out ways to become comfortable with it.” Morgan found a home at St. Louis University’s Graduate School of Social Work, where she earned her master’s in 2007 and later found a research job. Without free weekdays Morgan had to focus even more on her music with what little time she had. After hearing a few demos, Joey Lemon, of the Chicago band Berry (and a friend of Morgan’s) invited her up to his studio to record a proper EP. “I really wasn’t sure of it because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with music at that time. But he was convincing, so I went up to Chicago by myself one January when it was as cold as it had ever been, and we recorded two or three songs that weekend.” For the first time in her life, Morgan had “tons of instruments to choose from to create layers” and to embellish her stripped-down folk. She later returned to record a few more songs, and in 2008 she released it under her name as the Pine So Sweet EP. The next year, Beth Bombara, a friend and fellow Greenville graduate, approached Morgan to start a band together. After a little more hesitation, Morgan met with Bombara, and the two began writing similarly sparse melodies. Morgan returned to Lemon’s studio, this time with a new bandmate and a new name: Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine. Their first full LP, Weathered Hands, Weary Eyes, was recorded in just one intense weekend session, but you would never guess by listening. The relaxed melodies throughout the album are cool enough to seem effortless, but too beautiful and focused to have been lazily thrown together. And despite the duo’s liberty with

Lemon’s resources and production talent, the album sounds just as organic as their latest song, “Paper Leaves,” which was captured on a Chicago porch and features improvised birdsongs and fire truck sirens. “I think it helps that we are a duo because that automatically simplifies things,” she says of her new music relationship. “But it also means that we have to be creative with how we approach our songs. And I think it makes it more visually interesting that the sounds we make come from just two people, as opposed to having each player be responsible for just one instrument.” Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine have taken their music throughout the Midwest, though their jobs make it difficult to travel too far outside of St. Louis. The band grabbed the attention of the St. Louis Riverfront Times, which claimed, “If folk music is to remain vital, evolving and yet faithful to its timeless tradition, then it needs more artists like Cassie Morgan.” She is currently the clinical coordinator of a research project in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at St. Louis University that seeks the best ways to treat young adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. She sets up interventions and family therapy and keeps records of families’ progress, while also helping the department write other grants. Sound like the antithesis to the libertine, ergophobic musician stereotype? She is. The epitome of the working musician, Morgan finds that necessary balance between work and music. But talking to her over the phone, I get the sense she wouldn’t make such a fine distinction between the two. In each instance, she is sharing gifts with her St. Louis community; but fortunately for those of us in the rest of the world, her music can reach everyone. IF

“ I thin

it came once I d own pla able to melodie to find o for my v


nk in the beginning sort of naturally... developed my aying style, I was tinker with the es and experiment out the best keys voice.�

Morgan playing on the streets of St. Louis.


REVIEWS ////Music Bon Iver, Bon Iver Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)

Poor Justin Vernon faces the Sisyphean task of following up his breathtaking 2008 label debut with anything not sounding 2000-and-late in the daunting shadow of For Emma, Forever Ago. Its unrivalled intimacy, novel falsetto, heartbreak anthems and, of course, widely recounted ascetic origins in a Wisconsin cabin thrust Vernon into a spotlight since intensified by a curious EP, Bonnie Raitt covers on Jimmy Fallon and a collaboration with Kanye West on the rapper’s 2010 magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. But while these extracurriculars have magnified his exposure, they more than suggested that a highly anticipated sophomore release might rightly tread new sonic horizons rather than reflect a channeling of the old demons he invoked for his woodsy, stripped-down folk. Bon Iver, Bon Iver (yes, for branding purposes that make even Vernon himself cringe, that semi-eponymous title is indeed the album’s name) hardly gives the debut a cold shoulder. But while For Emma, Forever Ago’s brilliance lies in its catharsis, Bon Iver, Bon Iver captures Vernon in a moment of ecstatic ingestion, emerging from his solitude, where but the handholding of an acoustic guitar comforted his insecurities, to be instantaneously pierced with a surfeit of artistic confidence by the gamut of musical influences. Bon Iver, Bon Iver is an amplification of that transverbation; think of an adolescent St. Theresa taking piano lessons instead of Sunday school. Vernon’s halcyon digest most clearly manifests itself in a drastically more prolific repertoire. While For Emma, Forever Ago was not nec-

20

essarily devoid of ornamentation, its barren moments heightened its emotional profundity; while conversely, Bon Iver, Bon Iver’s sprawling but never self-indulgent ambition highlight this release. Despite the brevity of the stage name, Bon Iver would feel amiss without its bread-like stapling guitar melodies and Vernon’s buttery smooth vocal layering, both of which reappear prominently. But immediately on the opening bricolage, “Perth,” Vernon introduces his listeners to a new set of textures provided by a stellar supporting cast. Sessionist Greg Leisz kicks the track off with his pedal steel guitar shortly before drummer Matt McCaughan adds a march-like snare pattern to a song that feels autonomous even before the horns and synths really arrive. Mike Lewis and Colin Stetson’s soulful saxes accentuate a groovy “Minnesota, WI”; soaring strings arrangements levitate a jangling guitar on “Towers” and supple piano chops on the delicate “Was.”, which best epitomizes the album’s elusive and idiosyncratic percussion work by nixing it nigh altogether; and ethereal synth, the most frequent and irregular addition, ushers in the calm before a stormy climax on first single “Calgary”.

That buildup makes “Calgary” the default anthem, the closest thing to that which balladry tracks “Skinny Love” and “Flume” seemed to affect. Like For Emma, Forever Ago, Vernon’s arcane, suggestive poetry glues the album together with lush images of the rustic upper Midwest. But beyond satisfying audiophiles and naturalists, Vernon’s lyrics here carve out and occupy a physical space of their own. “Calgary” gives a sweeping sensory analysis of a cherished rebound, “hair, old, long along/ your neck onto your shoulder blades…hip under nothing/ propped up by your other one, face ‘way from the sun.” “Holocene” drops details attached to Vernon’s memories from holidays past, a more distinct zeitgeist than what the rest of his remarks conjure, but a mood setter nonetheless. Sure, Vernon had hitherto provided little narrative anyway, but Bon Iver’s verses eschew any specificity or framework altogether. The results are at times frustratingly impenetrable, but never clunky and always richly illustrated scenes from a romantically enlightened Neo-Platonic mind. Likewise does the album stylistically capture Vernon’s extensive musical cenogenesis. Drawing upon the many and varied genres with which


he has experimented since releasing his debut, Bon Iver, Bon Iver reflects the fortification of a dizzying pastiche rather than a collection of personal folk recordings. The Blood Bank vocodor oversaturation that prompted a call from Kanye makes a return, however in subtler, more refined instances that enhance and never detract from Vernon’s masterfully manipulated vocals. Like Bon Iver, Bon Iver’s sophisticated, unpredictable arrangements, Vernon’s capricious vocal timbre keeps the entirety of the listening experience a guessing game while paving smooth transitions between folk, R&B, jazz, country, and, the sore thumb in any other context, soft-rock, which dominates the latter half of the album. “Calgary” allays the shock with its magnificent escalation and climax before 93 seconds of feedback on “Lisbon, OH” act as a warning sign for one of the most daring closing tracks in recent memory. “Beth/ Rest” screams Miami Vice or Top Gun

sex scene, yuppie boat owners clad in LRG cardigans, Tom Selleck and glossy champagne flute dates before a fire or on a Hamptons beach: a niche exploited by 10CC, Christopher Cross, and Michael McDonald and relegated exclusively to ironic parody in the quarter century since. A puzzling antithesis to everything For Emma, Forever Ago meant to anyone who heard and felt Bon Iver’s music, but a sincere, beautiful, and brilliant puzzler. Dubious and cheesy in every paradigm since the yacht rock phenomenon of the 80’s, “Beth/Rest” is a game changer for future music off the heels of nine expansive and ponderous tracks that prove Justin Vernon worthy of enough artistic ethos to not only prompt an about-face critical revision of a caricatured genre or inspire its future musical integration, but provide a watershed moment of vindication for a snubbed bastard of a decade. Sound crazy? Maybe it won’t.

Bon Iver captures Vernon in a moment of ecstatic ingestion.”

ryan waring

New Brigade Iceage (Matador Records)

Let’s be honest, at this time last year if someone were to tell you that one of Summer 2011’s most talked about new bands would be a teenage group of Danish punks called Iceage, you probably would have done a spit take. Nevertheless, here they are, tearing through the blogosphere and clogging up message boards with typical “next big thing” prattle. The fact that little is actually known about Iceage has led to rumors (like the one about them flying back to Denmark after a Brooklyn show for their High School graduation) that have only added to their aura. Despite this, their debut album, New Brigade, is an alarmingly solid record that defies expectations

“ Bon Iver,

and rages with an urgency not often seen in indie music today. New Brigade races past in just over twenty-five minutes of noisy, aggressive, volatile music that will make you want to smash everything within grabbing distance all while head-banging. Yet, as is the mark of any good punk record, there’s a method to the madness. Not surprisingly, considering their young age, there are myriad influences peeking through on New Brigade, included hardcore, noise-rock and even a little Silent Alarm-era Bloc Party post-punk on tracks like “You’re Blessed.” Iceage somehow manage to mold all of these influences together with skill beyond their years into a

surprisingly cohesive record with a distinct style. From the migraine-educing bass drum pound in “White Rune,” to the shoegaze noise explosion of “Shadows,” New Brigade is not exactly a happy record. The echoey vocals (sung in almost indiscernible English) and the treble-heavy guitars come off as brutally cold and isolating. Iceage exhibit a terrifying aggression and stone-cold seriousness that doesn’t make New Brigade immediately accessible; however, multiple listens to tracks like “Broken Bone,” or the equally excellent title track, reveal well-crafted hooks that can even be downright catchy. New Brigade demands your attention unlike any other record released this year. One of the most striking things about Iceage is how they can pull off such gritty, abrasive punk but still not at all sound like they’re trying to pander to any “lo-fi” trends.They instead recorded New Brigade in a proper studio, letting their natural sound speak and thrash for itself.

bryant kitching

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reviews


“ Moore,

Demolished Thoughts Thurston Moore (Matador Records)

22 reviews

What to say about Thurston Moore? More sonic elder than sonic youth at this point, Moore has been slashing away his guitar for Sonic Youth for over thirty years now. Since the mid-nineties, he has occasionally stepped out of his atonal noise-pop sensibilities to release a solo album or two. On Demolished Thoughts, his fourth solo album, Moore embraces the wooden acoustic guitar (mostly 12-strings) for a suite of nine songs. These are not, however, entirely solo songs but fully formed musical statements. Seconds into the album, the music already communicates a lush interior world: acoustic guitars are backed by violins (Samara Lubelski), harps (Mary Lattimore), and a sympathetic and ghostly rhythm section (Joey Waronker and Bram Inscore). The real collaborator here, though, is Beck, who produced the album and adorns Moore’s minimalist tunes with structure and depth. Sonically, the collaboration brings to mind Beck’s classic Sea Change—another album that breezes along the orchestral folk highway traveled earlier by Tim Buckley or Nick Drake. That said, there is also the deep imprint of late period Sonic Youth here, especially in some of the longer pieces like the nearly seven minute “Orchard Street” where Moore’s guitar stylings take him out of conventional folk territory as strummed chords circle in repetition into echoes of dissonance and discomfort. But where Sonic Youth would have pulled the trigger into a morass of splintered noise, Moore, his guitar, the violin and the harp, take the music into a kind of wooden stratosphere: imagine some of the music on Murray Street played in an empty tenement on the lower east side without amps

and you get the picture. Moore has never had much vocal range—he tends to cycle through some familiar cadences and note sequences in his singing for Sonic Youth. But here, the voice doesn’t seem out of place. It’s mostly hushed, almost whispered, like he’s talking at 3 AM, afraid to wake anyone up. One of the most beautiful tracks on the album, “Space,” combines this nightweary voice with hypnotic, opentuned guitar chords that convey a summer about to turn into fall, a dusk about turn to night, a closed room about to open up into the night sky. The song sails past for nearly seven minutes on this taut inbetweenness as Moore muses: “I used to have all the time in the world / Cruising galaxies in search of gold.” Moore has said in interviews that some of the words on this album are “too personal,” but there’s nothing here that’s specific enough to pin down. What it does communicate is a sense of unease, things falling apart and failing to reach equilibrium. And it’s undeniably romantic, not in the sense of sentimental or mawkish but in the way that small moments of exchange between two individuals can take on much bigger meaning, especially upon remembering. On the final track, “January,” he sings: “He sees her sleeping on the grass / I think I heard a distant splash / In July she came to play / By January he learns to pray / Your shoes at the door / Waves come crashing to the floor / He sees your swimsuit on the grass / I thought I heard a distant laugh.” And that’s it, summing up a whole month. It would be a mistake to characterize this album as Sonic Youth unplugged. Here, Moore communicates

his guitar, the violin and the harp, take the music into a kind of wooden stratosphere.” an entirely different sensibility: most Sonic Youth songs always played on emotional distance, sometimes underpinned by a knowing ironic wink. There’s none of that here. The music on Demolished Thoughts is subtle, and yeah, emotional (although never oppressive or maudlin). Beck’s production adds just enough reverb and depth to the guitar tones to wrap the music in a warmth that one would never have thought possible on a Thurston Moore record. At this point his career (he’s 52), it’s clear that Moore still possesses an adventurous spirit. On Demolished Thoughts, he focuses that spirit into one of his most cohesive statements, one that explores the interior world of lost relationships and anxious nostalgia through the medium of acoustic pop. It’s one of the most satisfying albums from the Sonic Youth family in many years. asif siddiqi


“ Suck it and

Suck It And See Arctic Monkeys (Domino)

If they graded albums solely on their titles, then the unfortunately named Suck it and See by Arctic Monkeys would score pretty damn low. Luckily, there are people like me to dig a tad bit deeper than what’s written on the album cover. And as it turns out, despite its not-so sexually ambiguous title, the Monkeys’ follow-up to 2009’s Humbug is an unexpectedly enjoyable summer record. Arctic Monkeys don’t entirely shed the skuzzy Black Sabbathinfused sound of their last record, but they still tone it down considerably in favor of a cleaner, more accessible sound. This is an undeniably good move for the group, who sounded too much out of place on their last record. Despite commendable tracks like the pretty “Cornerstone,” Humbug’s dark grittiness did not fit with the group’s post-punk roots. It sounded like a band playing dress up with long hair and leather jackets. Suck it and See manages to take some of the better cues from Humbug and siphon them through a poppier sound, with mostly successful results. Suck it and See finds a nice balance between the snarky youthfulness of the Monkeys’ landmark debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, and the brooding maturity of some of their more recent work. At times it has proven difficult for the Monkeys to fit into their role as one of the worlds most popular rock groups after they achieved their fame by singing about how poor and unpopular they were (see: “From The Ritz to the Rubble,” or “A Certain Romance”). But tracks like “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” and “Reckless Serenade” perfectly

merge the old with the new. Similarly, “Black Treacle,” with its biting glam-rock guitar hook and upbeat disposition, helps perfect a new direction that Arctic Monkeys had simply toyed with on their last two records. Much of this success has to be credited to the impeccable songwriting of Alex Turner. In fact, on Suck it and See, the lead singer/ guitarist emerges as one of the most skilled young lyricists in the world of rock. Don’t get me wrong—Turner has written the occasional lyrical gem, but on Suck it and See the words are truly the centerpiece. Turner sings some of the cleverest lyrics this side of Morrissey. Personal favorites include, “I feel like the Sundance Kid behind a synthesizer,” “That’s not a skirt girl, that’s a sawed off shot gun / and I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me,” and “Topless models doing semaphore wave their flags as she walks by and get ignored.” Turner’s words make Suck it and See a more well-rounded album than Humbug, which is at times all bark and no substance. The only complaint is that Turner often sounds too timid in his actual delivery of his lyrics, as skillfully-crafted as they may be. Some songs like the title track and the fantastic closer, “That’s Where Your Wrong,” may leave some longing for Turner’s cocky sneer from past songs like “Fake Tales of San Francisco.” Even when his band pounds loudly behind him, Turner still croons calmly, almost as if he’s scared of being heard. Arctic Monkeys are a band that I keep expecting to hear fail. They seem all but destined to fall by the wayside on top of all the other over-

See manages to take some of the better cues from Humbug and siphon them through a poppier sound, with mostly successful results.” hyped, under-talented British bands of the mid-2000’s. Yet they always seem to deliver, many times in a way we didn’t expect. In fact, rather than slowing down, Arctic Monkeys seem to be hitting their mid-career stride with Suck it and See. One can only hope that they pick a better title next time around.

bryant kitching

23

reviews


“ It has

Circuital My Morning Jacket (ATO Records)

24 reviews

It’s fitting that My Morning Jacket’s latest release from ATO Records should be named Circuital. They haven’t necessarily come fullcircle so to speak—they’ve been on a steady upward trajectory since their 1999 debut The Tennessee Fire (Darla) and their acclaimed 2003 major label step-up It Still Moves (ATO)—as much as taken a moment to assess where their sound ha gone over the last decade. It has never been a simple feat to pin down a Jacket record to any one genre. They arrived in a rush of warm, bright, country-rock glory like a dust bowl cyclone touching down in a mic’d grain silo, and across five albums they’ve thrown out lines in damn near every direction they can reach from Louisville—indie, classic soul, folk, psychedelic rock, bluegrass, a dash of Muppetry—and reeled something back into the mix. Jim James, whose vocals are arguably the strongest feature of the band, is always ready to let us know how much Roy Orbison, Marvin Gaye, Dr. Teeth, or Prince he’s listening to at any given time. Last October, Jacket played five shows at Terminal 5 in New York, storming through a full album each night, and busting out covers of Elton John, Sly Stone, Lionel Richie and Funkadelic in the encores. Jacket’s current lineup has existed since 2004, so going back through their catalogue from the beginning seems to have given them a fresh perspective on how they’ve evolved and where their influences are. If Circuital’s opener, “Victory Dance,” is any indication, they haven’t wasted the opportunity for reflection. Fans need not be told that the only way to experience My Morning

Jacket is in concert. The studio albums always seem to fall just short of their genuinely epic live performances, especially James’ vocals, which explode and soar onstage with an energy nearly impossible to capture in a studio and without eighty thousand people along for a four-hour ride. The best reaction one can really have to one of their records is: “This would sound amazing live!” That said, the production of Circuital, helmed by James and The Decemberists collaborator Tucker Martine, pleasingly balances some of the indie-influence arrangements of Evil Urges with the more driving, rootsier sounds of their earlier material, and makes now a better time than ever to catch them when they hit your town. Some of the most memorable cuts straddle as many genre lines as ever: synths, banjos, pedal steel, and metal guitar converge on “You Wanna Freak Out,” and James brings back his Suzuki Omnichord to set soul rocker “The Day Is Coming” to an electronic texture. “Holdin’ On To Black Metal”—which sounds nothing like its title—comes across more like a Stax groove conceived for music festival sing-alongs. James shows his singersongwriter cred on “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” a front porch ballad worthy of The Band. The breadth of My Morning Jacket’s styles culminates on Circuital. If there is anything genuinely circuital about it, it’s that this record ties off one chapter for the band just as it opens the next with a mature yet fresh Jacket ready for more.

ray saada

never been a simple feat to pin down a Jacket record to any one genre.”


Nothing Is Wrong Dawes (ATO Records)

Listen to Nothing is Wrong for the first time on an airplane if at all possible. One to or from LA would be ideal, but any flight will suffice. A window seat view from atop a bed of cumulous clouds makes a delightful visual backdrop. Besides, Dawes’ new album is a travel record—but that’s only secondary. First and foremost, it’s a love record. The former theme makes itself evident in the album’s first words: “These days my friends don’t seem to know me without my suitcase in my hand/ And when I’m standing still, I seem to disappear.” Then, immediately following, the latter: “But maybe that’s how I found you/Maybe that’s exactly what I want/Maybe meeting you so far away from home is what makes it all so clear.” It’s that kind of straightforwardness that made the band’s first album so satisfying, but Dawes have more to offer than a lack of pretense. Their latest effort is rife with simile and second person, sometimes even to the extent that Taylor Goldsmith, the band’s primary songwriter, comes off as an amateur (especially puzzling is the line, “As I’ve learned, time is a language, and it’s the best way to explain how I feel” – huh?). But the rest of the time, skillful lyrical and musical composition makes us forget that the band’s four members haven’t lived a collective century. A soulful organ sometimes takes the piano’s place, and scattered instrumental solos (like the off-rhythm piano breakdown in “If I Wanted Someone”) sound as organic as the charming lyrics. Even when Dawes do fall flat, it’s okay because of how unassuming they seem. Unassuming, but never timid.

“If I Wanted Someone” begins with a badass guitar riff, Dawes’ answer to the stunning intro of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” Then enter the cool, rhythmic piano and modest bass, and later, the song’s unforgettable chorus: “If I wanted someone to clean me up, I’d find myself a maid/If I wanted someone to spend my money, I wouldn’t need to get paid/If I wanted someone to understand me, I’d have so much more to say/I want you to make the days move easy.” As with any song lines, my transcription gives shamefully little insight into its lyric value, but trust me when I tell you it’s worthy of a rock legend. Strong lyrics remain throughout the record, but an especially memorable line is on “Million Dollar Bill,” in which Goldsmith plots to stay with his lost love through various vicarious means. “When it hits me that she’s gone,” he sings, “I think I’ll run for president, get my face put on the million dollar bill. So when these rich men that she wants show her ways they can’t take care of her, I’ll find a way to be there with her still.” The slow love ballad is the album’s best example of Goldsmith’s humble lyrical creativity. Perhaps the greatest song is the cool “So Well,” from whose chorus the album gets its title. It features scattered piano, acoustic guitar, lackadaisical drums, and, most notably, the band’s brilliant vocal harmonies—all in homage to a woman named Marie (she’s the one who does it “so well”). And though the first half of the album claims its two best songs, the climax doesn’t come until the seven spot, “Fire Away.”The six-minute epic plays with all the

conciseness of a radio edit, beginning with Goldsmith singing words of encouragement. But when Goldsmith’s younger brother Griffin (also the band’s drummer) steps in with a solo of his own, you’re liable to get goose bumps. The two proceed to echo each other in the best brother-brother combination west of the National, and a scintillating guitar solo wraps things up. As thrilling as it is to listen to the song, I can only imagine what the recording session was like. Most thrilling of all is that the band has channeled—to some extent, at least—the musings of the venerable Warren Zevon. And though his wit, pop melodies, and melting pedal-steel will most likely never be matched, Zevon’s spirit certainly runs through Nothing is Wrong. Goldsmith’s heartfelt lyrics over quick-paced pop melodies and wistful harmonica call to mind the Werewolf of London at his most upbeat. But nowhere is his influence more evident than in the album’s last song, “A Little Bit of Everything,” with its deliberate carnival piano, pedal-steel, and march-like drums. Do I want more people to know about this band? I wouldn’t have written the review if I didn’t. But it’s refreshing to know that, as with Zevon, Dawes’ words and music aren’t written for the sake of increased exposure. Now, for goodness’ sake, let’s get them some anyway.

james passarelli

25

reviews


REVIEWS ////Movies The Tree of Life Terrence Malick (Cottonwood Pictures)

Time was when reaching for the stars was considered a good thing. Now you might as well take up a wine habit and start collecting vinyl records, because there’s a good chance “pretentious” will be thrown your way. Just ask Terrence Malick, the latest recipient of the Palme d’Or: his cosmic reach is greater and more literal than ever in The Tree of Life. It’s not for nothing that the film’s special effects supervisor, Douglas Trumbull, also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey. At one point, Malick pulls back from the central family of the story to consider the beginning of the universe and of life on Earth in a startling montage of interstellar movements of energy, asteroid impacts, and cellular development, set to the soaring, tremulous Lacrimosafrom Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem. This sequence might be a bellwether for one’s reaction to TToL: is it a heartfelt examination of the essential wonder of the universe, or is it an attempt to pass off exploding stars and pretty arias as insight? If Malick’s movies aren’t your cup of tea, then you probably won’t be any more pleased with his latest effort, which evinces his trademark style aplenty. There are the whispered voiceovers from multiple characters, who ask questions of an unknown addressee in an idiomatic way; classical pieces from composers contemporary and canonical (among whom the film’s composer, Alexandre Desplat, admirably holds his own); and gorgeous shots, courtesy of the masterful cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki using natural light. If, however, you find Malick to have a sensitive and unique eye and voice—an eye for

26

life’s subtle shifts between beauty, sadness, and ecstasy, and a voice for our existential wonderings—then it should stand as a shining addition to the filmmaker’s corpus. TToL occupies most of its time with a Texan family in the mid-century. A mother and a father (Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt) embody two approaches to life: those of grace and of nature. Under these competing influences, their three boys play and grow in the sun-dappled streets of suburbia, which act as both Eden and the place of worldly learning. Correctly or not, one might find traces of a utopian admiration for the Melanesians in The Thin Red Line and for pre-colonial America in The New World; but here, Malick cannot be accused of a naïve or nostalgic romanticizing, as innocence and experience mingle and collide in subtle and brilliant ways. Light ramblings through a meadow and kick-the-can are followed by torturing a frog. That this part of the movie is not strongly directed by an overarching plot—almost like a long montage, or scenes from a life—ensures that this mingling is not lifelessly causal: the villain did this to the protagonist, so now he ties a frog to a rocket, etc. It is organic, rather, and reflective of a worldview that sees force and love, giving and taking, as inextricable

parts of us. “If you really look carefully at natural light,” Lubezki told Kodak, “you realize how complex it is, and how it’s constantly shifting.” He could just as well be describing the multifarious weltanschauung of TToL. Nature and grace ebb and flow and mix. Hip-deep in this tide pool is Jack, the focus of the movie, who in adolescence is played by the superb Hunter McCracken. Malick continues to demonstrate his talent for pairing image and music, particularly in a joyous sequence set to Bedlich Smetana’s rhapsodic Vltava, one on par with the Vorspiel scene in The New World, so acutely is the exuberance of the characters and the moment felt. Whatever one’s philosophical reservations about Malick, his technical adroitness is undeniable. Indeed, even with those reservations, can he be called “pretentious”? Pretentiousness is the adoption of an attitude; it implies a falseness or insincerity. Terrence Malick’s movies are so feeling and unique that it seems impossible that he is anything but genuine and sincere. The Tree of Life is a beautiful outpouring of that sincerity.

james emerson


Submarine

Super 8

Richard Ayoade

J.J. Abrams

(Warp Films)

(Paramount)

British director Richard Ayoade takes familiar adolescent anxieties and reconstructs them with heart and deliberation. Submarine is the product of his vision—a coming of age story that pivots around fifteen year old Oliver Tate’s despairing quest to lose his virginity and save his parent’s marriage. Despite Tate’s precocious nature, he is fundamentally immature and unversed in life’s obstacles—perfectly acted by Craig Roberts. This impotence is

translated with the help of superb cinematography and its recurrent images of desolate oceans and waterfront. With this tight direction, the film creates an organic empathy that is complimented by the script’s consistent quips and dark humor. The comedy plays throughout but never detracts from the story’s sensibility. To add to Submarine’s proficiency, Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys contributes several original songs. UK, you win again.

The chemistry of a younger Spielberg concoction is obvious, but J.J. Abrams makes it his own, delivering a visually stunning and impassioned adventure that affirms him as a king of modern blockbusters. In the summer of 1979, a group of young high schoolers—who spend their time toying with Super 8mm film and worshiping Romero—witness a train derailment that unleashes an alien creature into their small town. The interplay between the children is reminiscent of The Goonies; the

X-Men: First Class

Midnight in Paris

Matthew Vaughn

Woody Allen

(20th Century Fox)

(Mediapro)

Refreshing in all the right ways, X-Men: First Class should remind Marvel Studios that there is more than just the facades of heroes and villains. Director Matthew Vaughn’s origin story is set in an alternate 1960’s when the Cuban Missile Crisis was an eminent threat to global security, causing mutants to choose sides depending on his or her perception of society. Michael Fassbender as Magneto steals the show—and owns it completely— with a character arc that is both emotionally resonant and wildly

entertaining; it ties nicely into his friendship and subsequent enmity with his moral adversary, Charles Xavier, who is acted with intelligence and naiveté thanks to James McAvoy. The story occasionally loses its momentum from flat—often puzzling—dialogue and an overwhelming amount of plotlines, but in the end its weaknesses succumb to its strengths and wealth of pleasing cameos; the result is both a rewarding comic adaptation and a universally accessible action narrative.

Woody Allen’s latest endeavor boasts a whimsical direction and a greater efficiency, making it one of his most captivating films in recent years. Unlike the fragmented stories in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, where the whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts, Midnight in Paris follows one protagonist, played in fluent Allen fashion by Owen Wilson. The film follows Wilson’s character during his vacation to Paris, which is spent by day alongside his ignorant wife (Rachel McAdams) and by night among art-

dialogue is hilarious, the characters are well cast, and they deliver exceptional performances—most notably newcomer Joel Courtney as the lead and Elle Fanning as his muse. At times the “monster story” takes the backseat, limiting the creature from reaching the full potential of its intrigue, but this is acceptable since Abrams as the writer/director puts his young cast in the foreground—surrounded by impeccable effects—and allows the emotions of growing youth to play out.

ists and liberated thinkers of the 1920’s: Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Stein, et all. The story’s characters and themes are straightforward—almost excessively at times—but they are utilized well in this time traveling, nostalgic comedy that has some enchanting resemblances to the Twighlight Zone’s “Willoughby.” The conundrum of Miniver Cheevy is at the film’s core, and Allen’s sophisticated direction provides a more than satisfying response, decorated with abundant humor and the Parisian setting. rob destefano

27

reviews


80 SONGS

MINUTES OF

That Need to be Retired Please note: this playlist is not titled "Songs We Hate and Wish Would Wither Away and Die Horrible Deaths, Etc." We do not necessarily hate these songs. Now, if we had access to a time machine that could only be operated twice, would we go back in time and kidnap some of these artists' parents and then go farther back in time again to feed them to dinosaurs? No, because we could clone a dinosaur in the present and thus reserve both trips for kidnapping and making meals from two sets of parents of certain artists on this list.That, we would certainly prioritize above deeds like squelching the Inquisition, preserving the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or tossing Adam and Eve a couple of oranges. For a good majority of this list, however, these songs' popularity seem to have paralleled careers like that of Brett Favre. As tremendous as its prime may have been, it is time to hang it all up and stop sending dick pics. Without further ado, 80 minutes of songs that need to be retired:

1 4:30

3 3:42

BILLY JOEL – “Piano Man” No particular song should ever become so synonymous with the entirely unspecific “bar experience” that it might trivialize a second night out. But “Piano Man” has become such a tavern cliché that every time I hear it my stomach churns like the froth atop a pint of beer while all the socials drunkenly sway arm-onshoulder in the pub I’ve thankfully never haunted.

CEE LO GREEN – “Fuck You” Sure, it hasn’t even been a full year. And yes, I dug the crap out of it last summer, too. But as anyone familiar with Novelty 101 should know, that shit wears off. “Forget You” didn’t sound so contrived the first few million listens but my is it cringeworthy now.

2 3:20

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NEIL DIAMOND – “Sweet Caroline” Look, I realize that (1.) the Red Sox started playing “Sweet Caroline” long before “Fever Pitch”, (2.) that Jimmy Fallon has done a lot of great atonement for music on his talk show since and (3.) that Neil Diamond was always more than a cult figure. That said, as a young, impressionable boy obsessed with Saving Silverman, watching the scene to which I’m obviously referring felt like finding out your parents gave your beloved dog away to the guy who lives in a fenceless house next to the highway.

4 8:32 DON MCLEAN – “American Pie” A long, long time ago, I can still remember how those two hammered bros drunkenly stumbled onto the karaoke stage and began to belch out a song three times longer and four times more requested than anything else in the catalog five times as poorly as Don McLean.

5 7:01 BONNIE TYLER – “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Not only are all the same contributing factors incriminating “American Pie” present here, but the frat party on stage feels the need to channel the godawful Dan Band and drop

gratuitous “f-bombs” cuz that’s what’s badass and “Old School” is hands down the single greatest achievement in filmmaking and shit.

6 3:23 DROWNING POOL – “Bodies” A song with enough synthetic adrenaline to make Jose Canseco’s raisins look like polished bowling balls. Surely, there are other songs to get you jacked up for your underground MMA fight, JV football game, woodshop final or whatever other possible explanation you could supply.

7 3:52 HOOBASTANK – “The Reason” You know that scene in Being John Malkovich when John Malkovich jumps into his own head and experiences a world where everyone is John Malkovich and can only speak the word “Malkovich?” That’s kind of the memory I have of the summer of 2004, when every radio station made listening any song not called “The Reason” impossible.


05 10 15 8 4:10 JOURNEY – “Don't Stop Believin'” Sure, this isn’t the first song on this list eulogized on Glee. Nor will it be the last. Nor is it the track most egregiously euthanized by Glee. Nor did Glee even put the first nail in its coffin. But damn, am I sick of Glee and this song.

9 3:19 HOT CHELLE RAE – “Tonight Tonight” Perhaps a significant portion of our readership may be unfamiliar with this choice. Fortunately for those to whom this applies, we went ahead and retired it so you won’t ever have to subject yourself to three plus minutes of the signature piece of evidence posterity will cite when they wish to succinctly exemplify the epitome of everything wrong with this world.

10 6:18 CARL DOUGLAS – “Kung Fu Fighting” And thus, several thousand campy fight montages from slapstickheavy comedies were born before their scripts were even twinkles in their screenwriters’ eyes. There’s a reason I watch my movie trailers on mute and with subtitles the first time through.

11 4:05

14 4:24

ASHER ROTH – “I Love College” What an age we live in when the success stories of passionate, honest artists lie in the hands of an unbiased, democratic sea of social media users rather than the moneygrubbing corporate music industry machine—OH MY GOD they want to listen to THAT douchebag? Fuck it, bring the execs back! The people aren’t ready!

DEF LEPPARD – “Pour Some Sugar on Me” There’s something poetic and suave about the old idiom, “Lay some sugar on me.” As for Def Leppard’s rephrasing, I can’t help but picture a couple of baby boomers rediscovering their youthful vigor by literally interpreting the titular lyric, and that is not a pleasant image.

12 3:13

DROPKICK MURPHYS – “I'm Shipping Up to Boston” Maybe if Boston sports teams didn’t win as many championships as they did in the last decade, we all wouldn’t be subjected to listening to the default anthem for every one of those painfully long playoff runs for those of us not fond of Beantown athletics.

PHANTOM PLANET – “California” If there were one part of The OC particularly more insufferable than any other segment of a consistently awful series, it had to be the title sequence.There’s no better motivator to get off my ass and exercise outside than hearing that opening piano riff.

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4:20 GREEN DAY – “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” Like “The Reason,” “BoBD” is thankfully just a memory to many. But it received enough radio play in 2005 alone to make up for Green Day’s future centuries of irrelevance. It also marks the first and last time I ever preferred an Oasis mashup to the original.

15 2:34

james passarelli ryan waring

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playlist

Inflatable Ferret - Volume III, Issue 6  

Inside: Reviews for new albums by Bon Iver, My Morning Jacket, and more. Also, we talk work and play with Cassie Morgan, Ryan Waring tamper...

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