1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die: Peaches – “Fuck the Pain Away”

The-teaches-of-peaches-by-peaches_nqlzg16gxikx_full

Year: 2000

Album: The Teaches of Peaches

This song raises so many questions. Are you supposed to go clubbing to this music? Is this satire? Is this hip-hop? Is this electronic? Why the Andy Griffith Show?

When Billboard asked Peaches mastermind Merrill Nisker about her song’s seemingly out of place directness, she said that, “The music must first be good, then I can offend, make people think and make them dance…artist like Busta Rhymes and 50 Cent get away with so much more lyrically, without being questioned. But, because I’m a woman, there’s that double standard.”

The song has been featured in many popular movies and TV shows, including Lost in Translation, and Thom Yorke has claimed that this song inspired him to write “15 Step”.

Fun fact: Nisker used to be a school teacher before becoming a musician, so she’s serious when she’s saying, “Stay in school, cos it’s the best”.

Another fun fact: There is actually no official music video for this song – below was just a fan-made video, though I’m sure Nisker enjoys it.

Continue Reading

End Of Year Report: 12 Different Perspectives On Music In 2013

6a00d83451b74a69e2017d3e40bf35970c-pi

If you’re a fan of mainstream and indie variations of rock music i.e. Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re closer to my dad’s age and was still wishing for that new My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie album or that Replacements reunion back in January, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Pharrell, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Kanye West, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a female pop star and your name isn’t Lady Gaga, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a Lou Reed fan, 2013 was not a good year for you (though you probably went back through all your old Reed records and rediscovered your love for Transformer and “Street Hassle”, so maybe it was a good year).

If you like music, 2013 was a good year for you. 2013 was a good year for (almost) everyone, but there are several different way to look at this past year. Here are 12 of those perspectives as we celebrate the end of a historic year in music.

2013: The Year Of Lou Reed’s Passing

LouReed_WarholMotion

One of rock music’s most influential poets and explorers passed away in 2013, and fans around the world went back to their Velvet Underground and Transformer records and mourned. It was one of those deaths that united all people to celebrated an incredible life, for Reed was one of those few musicians that nearly everyone knew, even if they didn’t know that song they really liked is called “Walk On The Wild Side” (or that it’s about cross-dressing). Even towards the end of his life, Reed never stopped exploring the possibilities of music, and we’ll miss his sense of wonder and beauty that he found in even the ugliest of places.

Check out these 10 songs that’ll introduce you to Lou Reed.

 

2013: The Year Of Impressive Women

miley-cyrus-we-cant-stop-1-650-430

2013 was a quite a year for women in music. You had Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Beyonce, and Brandy Clark all making headlines and selling tons of records in 2013 (“tons” is adjusted to a modern time when few musicians are selling enough records to keep their jobs). We also had new music from Lady Gaga and, though Artpop wasn’t as good as we all thought it would be, it’s big news whenever a new Gaga album is released (in fact, it’s even bigger news that Artpop flopped and that the modern pop era that she helped create has moved on from her). And on the other side of the spectrum, we had Laura Marling, Haim, Savages, Sky Ferreira and more ladies making some of the best alternative music of 2013.

 

2013: The Year Of Nostalgia

david-bowie

If you told me on December 31, 2012 that in the next 12 months we would have new music from My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Dismemberment Plan, Boards of Canada and Jay Z AND that The Replacements, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Postal Service, The Breeders and *NSYNC (!) would reunite and perform, I would have told you that you were crazy. Well 2013 was a crazy year indeed.

 

2013: The Year Of The Modern Classics

936186_10151439180496538_1411978719_n

Vampire Weekend made their best album, Kanye West made his Kid A to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s Ok Computer, Arcade Fire loosened up and still made an enduring rock record, Daft Punk returned with the biggest hit of their career, Arctic Monkeys became the best soul-rock band in the world, James Blake won the Mercury Prize, and we heard new music from Kurt Vile, The Strokes, The National, Kings Of Leon, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age and many more.

Yeah, 2013 was a year for modern classics.

 

2013: The Year Of The Rookie

fcfce7c2

Back in January we didn’t know much about Haim, Palma Violets, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, CHVRCHES, Foxygen, Disclosure, Chance The Rapper, Savages, Perfect Pussy and Lorde, but now we all know who theses guys are.

 

2013: The Year Of Trying To Figure Out Spotify

royalties

It’s hard to remember life before Spotify and before having the ability to stream nearly every song you wanted to hear anytime you had an internet connection. For music fans Spotify is a blessing, a free gateway to (almost) any song you want to stream. For artists however, it’s a completely different story.

In 2013 Spotify became one the dominant music streamers in America, and we began to understand its place within a music industry that desperately needs to adjust to how most people listen to music. Those who oppose Spotify’s model include prominent musicians such as David Byrne, Thom Yorke, Beck, and many more who claim that Spotify still hurts musicians with their money breakdown.

The above picture is from a Stereogum article discussing how Spotify works and how it makes money and pays back the artists.

Only time will tell if the Spotify model can last and, more importantly, if it can be changed to benefit the musicians, but in 2013 there was movement (good or bad) to determine a future for the music industry.

 

2013: The Year Of The Open Letter

Sinead O'conner Facebook

In the age of smartphones and social media, it’s nice to see that musicians are keeping in touch by writing letters to each other and letting us all see what they’re saying.

Sinead O’Connor Reaches Out To Miley Cyrus To Not Whore Herself Out

Sinead O’Connor Writes Another Letter To Miley After She Compares Her To Amanda Bynes

Sufjan Stevens Corrects Miley Cyrus On Her Grammer

(But then we have this awesome Miley Sinead mash-up video that makes the whole fued ironic)

Childish Gambino Writes A Letter Via Marriott Hotel Stationaries

GoldieBlox To The Beastie Boys Concerning Girls

Jay Z’s song “Open Letter” Addressed

 

2013: The Year Of The Fox

 

2013: The Year Of The Rise And Fall Of The Harlem Shake

 

2013: The Year Of Pharrell

pharrell_620

Here are some of the things that Pharrell accomplished in 2013:

  • He was nominated for seven grammy awards for this upcoming Grammys.
  • He created the first 24 hour music video for his song “Happy”, which you can view here.
  • He’s featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, two of the biggest hits of 2013.
  • He helped produce Jay Z, Azealia Banks, 2 Chainz, Mike Posner, Nelly, Mac Miller, Mayer Hawthorne, John Legend, The Weeknd, Aloe Blacc, Miley Cyrus, Pusha T and many more.
  • He helped produce the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2 and Man Of Steel, two of the biggest summer movies of 2013.
  • He got married and celebrated his 40th birthday (serious, the dude looks 20 and he’s 40).
  • He announced his next solo record for next year which will have the help of Columbia Records, and it’ll feature “no rapping”.
  • He seems like a real chill guy.

So yeah, Pharrell won 2013.

 

2013: The Year of Creative Album Releases

arcade-fire-reflektor3

In 2013 there were many popular musicians who were either willing (or desperate) to make their album release THE event of the year, which required a lot of creativity (and money). This year was full of creative releases that built up so much hype, or in some cases there was no time for hype to build. Here are some examples:

  • In 2013 Arcade Fire became The Reflektors and released cryptic messages via chalk on walls and performed with big heads on The Colbert Report and released the album on YouTube for one day that was matched to the visuals of the movie Black Orpheus, one of the key inspirations behind Reflektor.
  • Jay Z and Kanye, both members of The Throne mind you, released major solo albums in 2013, but they both promoted their albums in the most polar opposite ways. Magna Carta Holy Grail was announced via The NBA Finals and Jay Z partnered up with Samsung to sponsor the album. Yeezus had no radio, no TV, no sponsors – only Kanye himself proclaiming he was a God on one of the most memorable SNL performances of all time. He also projected his face on the sides of buildings and premiered a softcore-porn music video on Ellen. In short, Jay Z was corporate America, and Kanye was the counterculture.
  • For their Lollapalooza set, Death Grips decided not to show up at their own show (or they never planned on showing up, we’ll never know) and then they canceled the rest of their 2013 tour. And oh yeah, they happened to release a new album (Government Plates) to a sharply divided fan base and had everyone else talking about it – it appears that from now on, whenever someone unexpectedly drops a new album, it’s called “pulling a Death Grips”.
  • Childish Gambino released a massive 72-page screenplay for this year’s Because The Internet.
  • Daft Punk unveiled Random Access Memories by premiering “Get Lucky” at Coachella which was followed by multiple billboards and SNL appearances.
  • Katy Perry promoted Prism via a gold truck.
  • Very recently, Beyonce dropped her self-titled album out of nowhere. This technique has worked with Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and other indie artists (like I said before, Death Grips), but for a pop megastar like Beyonce to do this it was potentially revolutionary.

 

2013: The Year of Insanely Great Music

In addition to all these artists I’ve mentioned before, we also had great music from Deafheaven, Mikal Cronin, John Mayer, MGMT, Drake, Iron and Wine, Josh Ritter, Phoenix, The Thermals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phosphorescent and so many more. There were countless other hit songs that I didn’t include that are in my Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2013, and there were plenty of great records that I didn’t have room to talk about that are included in my list of my favorite albums of 2013. And of course, it was a fun year for Headphone Nation – there was never a time when there was nothing to talk about.

Here’s to a mind-blowing 2013, and here’s to what 2014 might bring us.

Happy holidays y’all.

Continue Reading

10 Songs To Introduce You To…Radiohead

Radiohead

How the hell do you introduce someone to Radiohead? Seriously, where do you start? “Creep”? Ok Computer? “Paranoid Android”? Kid A? In Rainbows? The “Lotus Flower” music video? Where do you start?

A lot of how Radiohead is appreciated, in addition to their excellent catalog, is by how they’ve helped change and define rock music in the past 20 years. But for someone who missed out on hearing Ok Computer back in 1997 or hearing the band’s radical transition to Kid A back in 2000 or paying whatever price they wanted for In Rainbows the trick is to hook the person onto the music and not onto the backstory.

But how do you introduce a band that is known for great albums instead of great singles? That’s like introducing Quentin Tarantino to someone by only showing the best scenes from some of his movies — the true learning experience comes from watching all of his movies and seeing how one artist can have so much vision and range. This is the issue that is faced with Radiohead. They have eight albums that are all excellent in their own ways (yes, even Pablo Honey is great in its own skin). And yes, they have a couple of songs that you already know and/or would recognize, but praising just “Paranoid Android” makes no sense when you take out the rest of Ok Computer.

But alas, I’ve tried to cover Radiohead’s glorious career in only ten songs, because I like the challenge (and probably because I’m an idiot for thinking that this can be done). I tried to represent each Radiohead album on this list to show how diverse each album is, but if it were up to me I would simply tell you to go listen to all their albums right now. But you probably don’t have the time (or the desire) to do that, so here’s my attempt to (hopefully) give you a solid introduction to one of the best rock bands of recent memory.

For all my fellow Radiohead fans, I hope you understand my selection. For everyone else, let’s travel back to 1993.

1) “Creep”

The song that started it all. If Radiohead never made anything after Pablo Honey they would still be known as the band that made “Creep”. It was one of the first big hits in the post-Nirvana 90s, and, contrary to how the band might feel today, it’s still a great song. The first time you hear Jonny Greenwood’s guitar explosion into the chorus is a special moment.

 

2) “High And Dry”

After going through The Bends, I considered making a separate list called, “10 Songs To Introduce You To…The Bends“. Radiohead’s sophomore album is full of fantastic songs that showcased the flexibility and songwriting chops of a young band that was getting better at an alarming rate. Of all of Radiohead’s albums, The Bends is the one that has the best mix of songs that standout on their own, and most of the songs stay within the stadium-guitar-rock-via-The-Smiths ballpark that Coldplay would eventually go on to perfect (When someone compares Coldplay to Radiohead, they’re talking about The Bends).

“High And Dry” off The Bends is my favorite Radiohead ballad and, along with “Fake Plastic Trees”, is one of the band’s best overall songs.

 

3) “Bones”

The flipped side of the Bends coin is the loud guitar rock that was greatly improved upon since Pablo Honey. The album is full of great guitar moments (“The Bends”, “Just”, “My Iron Lung”), but I put “Bones” on the list because it shows how Radiohead can turn the guitars all the way up without sounding overbearing.

 

4) “Paranoid Android”

We each have our different picks for favorite Radiohead songs, but it’s hard to find a better Radiohead song than “Paranoid Android”. A three-song-in-one approach was taken from the White Album-era Beatles, and the end result is an incredible example of a piece of art that was hugely ambitious yet strangely accessible.

 

5) “Everything In Its Right Place”

One of the most infamous album openers of all time. When Kid A came out in 2000 it sounded like nothing else being made in popular music, and “Everything In Its Right Place” literally sounded like it came from outer space. Thirteen years later, Kid A still sounds exciting, but if it sounds somewhat conventional to you, then that’s a testament to how important Kid A was for music in the early new millennia.

 

6) “Idioteque”

Ask me to play you one song that’ll make you “get” Kid A and I’ll probably play you “Idioteque”. I believe this song, more than any song off Kid A, helped usher in a new era of popular music that allowed more digital sampling. Too bad I’ve yet to hear anything that is as catchy as this song.

 

7) “I Might Be Wrong”

It’s pretty common to title Amnesiac as The Godfather Part II to Kid A‘s The Godfather. Both albums came out of the same studio sessions and both albums focused less on guitars and more on electronics and experimentation, but there is still a clear distinction between the two albums (to me Kid A sounds more like the rejection of isolation while Amnesiac sounds like the embracement of it).

“I Might Be Wrong” is on this list because it restates the fact that, no matter how experimental Radiohead will get, they will always be rooted in guitar music. Plus, it’s a killer song.

 

8) “2+2=5”

I have mixed feelings for Hail To The Thief. I initially dismissed it as an album with no direction and as the first bland Radiohead album. But over time I’ve grown attached to Radiohead’s weirder side (I hated Kid A when I first heard it, but now I love it), and now Hail To The Thief sounds like a great fusion of experimentation and grounded guitar songwriting.

But all feelings aside, “2+2=5” has been and always will be my favorite Radiohead album opener, which is a high honor considering that literally every single Radiohead opener is great. The song matches the paranoia that is hinted in the Orwellian title by the nervous guitar picking and Thom Yorke’s singing that transitions into a glorious freakout midway through.

 

9) “Reckoner”

It was this or “House of Cards”. Or “15 Steps”. Or anything else off In Rainbows.

In Rainbows is my favorite Radiohead album because it introduced me to Radiohead, and “Reckoner” stood out to me immediately because of how the song matures so much in so little time. Do yourself a favor and listen to all of In Rainbows.

 

10) “Lotus Flower”

The King Of Limbs is the most recent Radiohead album and, like Hail To The Thief, I initially had mixed opinions. We’ll see over time if this album grows on me, but I included “Lotus Flower” on this list because A) it’s a pretty good song and B) the music video.

Continue Reading

Music Journal: What I’ll Remember The Most About Music In 2011

2011 was a good year for music.  It got weird at times (LuLu anyone?), and sometimes things were just plain bad (LuLu anyone?), but in 2011 there was always something to talk about in the world of music…like Lulu.  There are a few among many moments that I’ll remember the most – the first time I saw the music video for “Yonkers”, the death of Amy Winehouse, the new Radiohead album suddenly being released and then all the extra drama over its quality, and many more.

Here’s what I’ll remember the most about music in 2o11.

2011: The Year of Adele

No one had a bigger year than Adele in 2011.  She was inescapable, and her mega hits “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You” played everywhere and at all times.  Her second album 21 is America’s best-selling album since Usher’s Confessions back from 2004, with 5.28 million copies sold and counting.  Many, including myself, got cynical about this Brit sensation and how big she got, but nobody can deny her talent.  Just listen below to her cover Bob Dylan, and realize the power that is Adele.

 

The “Yonkers” music video, and the arrival of Tyler The Creator and Odd Future.

The first time I saw this music video I didn’t know what to think, but I knew it would get big soon.  Sure enough, Tyler the Creator and the rest of his rap group Odd Future became famous, or infamous depending on the person.  If you’ve never seen this video then you’re in for a treat.

 

The End of R.E.M., The White Stripes, and LCD Soundsystem

Nothing last forever, even great bands have to end eventually.  This year, three major acts called it quits, each leaving a huge void in the music world where they made their impact.  R.E.M. basically invented what we call “Alternative” and “Indie” music (sorry for the bold claim, but it’s hard to dispute it).  The White Stripes were the leaders of the back-to-basics rock revival of the early 2000s, and Jack White is a modern-day guitar hero.  LCD Soundsystem, the creative vehicle of James Murphy, was to me the modern day David Bowie, an artist who combined various genres and creative unique music that refused to compromise commercial success for artistic value.  Each of these acts will be greatly missed.

 

Arcade Fire Wins A Grammy

Back in February Arcade Fire, the biggest band nobody knew, won the Grammy for best album for 2010’s fantastic The Suburbs. The win came as a shock, mainly because most people had never heard of this little big band from Canada.  The win was huge for the indie world, and showed that the Grammys weren’t totally out of touch with the world.  The video below is fun to watch, neither the announcers or the band could believe what had happened.  For the article I posted the day after the Grammys, click here.

 

The King of Limbs: Proof That Radiohead Can Do Anything And Still Be Loved

Radiohead have been known for pulling some big stunts, and this year’s shenanigans ranks up near the top.  Let’s backtrack to pre-King of Limbs.  Radiohead hasn’t released a proper album since 2007’s In Rainbows and have been hush-hush about their plans for an upcoming album.  Then all of a sudden, they tell the world they’ll release an album within the week!  Fans were freaking out, the Internet exploded, and both Radiohead fans and haters were curious.  This was a truly an event, and it just goes to show how popular Radiohead truly are, that they can get the world excited over an album in a time where the value of an album has gone dramatically down.

I remember counting down the days, waiting for what I was hoping to be the album of the year.  Then, in another crazy move, they released the album a day early!  I woke up to the news and within the hour I had the new Radiohead album.  I stopped everything, downloaded the album, began playing it on my iTunes, and I listened.  Thirty-seven quick minutes later the album was over, and a realization came, something I didn’t think I would ever hear myself say.

The new Radiohead album…kinda sucks.

The songs all sounded the same and I felt there was much left to be desired.  I was shocked that, after four years of nothing, this was the best the band who brought us The Bends and OK Computer could give us.  There was no way that Radiohead could have done this, that they put so much hype behind, what I truly thought at the time, a piece of crap.  I thought there had to be more, this was a cruel joke, there would be more music coming out.  More music never came out.  What followed was a huge division among fans and critics – you either loved or hated the album, no middle group.  I was apart of the latter, and I was bothered by how many people were raving about the album.

Much time has passed, and though I still don’t think it’s that great, I have come to appreciate some of The King of Limbs.  It’s art, and Radiohead have always created great art that is challenging.  I thought Kid A sucked when I first heard it, but over time it grew on me and now I love that album.  The  King of Limbs is nowhere near as good as Kid A, but it’s not a piece of crap.  Plus the album gave us my favorite music video of the year.

If anything, this event showed to me that Radiohead could do anything they want and still be loved.  Thom Yorke should released an album of him of just farting, just to see how well it does.  I’ll end this rant with a link to a Spin article released in 2009 about Radiohead.  It’s very interesting, and it might change your perspective about the band.  Read the article here.

 

Spotify: A Game Changer

Spotify finally came to the US, and it caught fire fast.  Spotify’s popularity could very well put an end to the MP3, with strictly all-digital music becoming the way of the future for music.  Good for fans, bad for the artist and labels, but it’s truly an evolution in the music industry.

 

The Death Of Amy Winehouse, And Other Great Losses

No death this year was as shocking as the death of famed British soul singer Amy Winehouse.  She died so young and unexpectedly, and her death at twenty-seven added her to the infamous twenty-seven club.  She was a true talent, a kind of artist with a voice and personality that comes only so often, and a promising career was cut tragically short.  This year we also lost Clarence Clemons, saxophone player and founding member of the E Street Band with Bruce Springsteen, famed musician-poet Gil Scott-Heron, and Steve Jobs, whose iPod technology changed how we listen to music.  All these and more talented people were taken from us in 2011, and they will be greatly missed.

 

And Of Course…Lulu

A bad idea that was even worse when realized.  Lou Reed and Metallica came together and created a piece of crap.  This album had so much buzz behind it, it was already one of the most talked about collaborations in recent time.  The backlash it has received only cements this album more into music history as the greatest WTF moment of 2011.

 

I’m sure I forgot some big events, but these are the events that defined 2011 for me.  It was a crazy year with many ups and down, but some fantastic music was released.  I’m excited to see what 2012 has in store for us.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays and have a fun and safe time bringing in the new year, and make sure to continue keeping up with Headphone Nation for all that is music.

Tune in. Tune out. Live on.

Continue Reading