13 Random Velvet Underground Covers To Prove That Yes, They Really Were That Influential

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I usually try to stay away from listicles, but this one was way too much fun to make.

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David Bowie – “I’m Waiting For The Man”


R.E.M. – “Femme Fatale”


Joseph Arthur – “Heroin”

Note: Joseph Arthur recorded an entire Lou Reed acoustic tribute album that you can find on Spotify.


Bryan Ferry – “What Goes On”


Galaxie 500 – “Here She Comes Now”


Nirvana – “Here She Comes Now”


Joy Division – “Sister Ray”


Swervedriver – “Jesus”


Cowboy Junkies – “Sweet Jane”


Phish – “Cool It Down”

Note: Phish covered all of ‘Loaded’ live. It’s also on Spotify and it’s pretty great.


Cat Power – “I Found A Reason”


The Decemberists – “I’m Sticking With You”


U2 – “Satellite of Love”

Note: I know this was officially released as a Lou Reed solo song, but this song was written while Reed was in VU. You can hear a rough demo here.

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Headphone Nation’s Year In Review: 2014

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What better way to end 2014 than to give out some superlatives? As with any sort of end-of-year review, these awards reflect my personal taste and shouldn’t be taken as the final say on the year. Really my hope is that you’ll check out some new music that that you’d otherwise miss.

Also, make sure to click on the album cover for a link to a song off that album.

Alright, let’s begin.

 

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Guess Who’s Back…

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It’s been a long time, but I’m finally back home! It’s been an incredible five months, traveling to 21 countries and 44 cities around the world and seeing some truly amazing things.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been spending my jet lag days going through my Spotify and checking out all the music that I missed in 2014. I’ve been gone since January, so I’ve had the pleasure to listen to six months worth of excellent new music, and all for the first time this past week. (I can’t stop listening to the new Real Estate and The War On Drugs albums specifically)

I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things (driving a car is still freaking me out) so it’ll take me a while to get my head straight and write. I hope to get back into consistently writing sometime soon after the Fourth of July. But for now, I’ll try to write every now and then and get caught up with what I missed.

I also have plans to change and update the website to make it better than ever. I already know that this upcoming year will be crazy busy; this will be my senior year at Indiana University, so I will be busy looking for jobs and all that “fun” stuff. There will be lots of trial and error for a while, but that’s what this summer is all about.

If you’re interested, I’ve also published my blog posts from my travels up here for you to check out. Check out the “Semester At Sea And Europe Travels” page.

I missed you all — It’s good to be back.

-Brady

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Break ‘Em Out: U2 – Achtung Baby

They came.  They saw.  They grooved.

Depending on the band, 1991 was either the best of times or the worst of times.  A wave of young new bands a part of the massive grunge movement was taking over the world while some of the most popular acts of the 80s were being pushed aside into obscurity.  Most 80s bands did not welcome the change and tried to continue their reign into the 90s, most ending up with poor results.  U2, arguably the biggest of these 80s bands threatened by extinction, decided to not play it safe like their peers but to reinvent themselves with a new look and sound for the new decade.  The result was Achtung Baby, the weirdest, and greatest, thing U2 has ever made.

The band sounds weird right off the bat with album opener “Zoo Station”, where Bono has traded his hymns of Bloody Sundays for a good time in the club (“I’m ready for the laughing gas / I’m ready for what’s next”).  Then the next track “Even Better Than The Real Thing” has Bono trying to seduce a significant other – is this really the same Bono that sang “Running To Stand Still”?  Yes, this is the same Bono, and this is still U2.  Bono, the Edge, and the other two guys you don’t know (Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen Jr. on drums) have always been able to create impassioned songs that play off the raw emotional power of Bono’s singing and the Edge’s inspiring guitar playing.  The only difference on Achtung Baby is that Bono is trying to reach us through our hips and desires instead of our spirituality – Bono is trying to be sexy!

There are no fillers on Achtung Baby – each song adds something different to the album.  “One” is the song everyone loves and sounds the most like old U2.  It’s an excellent song, but it’s not as romantic as most people make it out to be (“Did I ask too much, more than a lot? / You gave me nothing, now it’s all I got / We’re one, but we’re not the same / Well we hurt each other, then we do it again”).  Things go back to being weird again with “Until The End Of The World”, which is probably the sexiest song about the end of the world.  “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” is my current favorite song off the album.  With its big guitars and bigger chorus, it’s a song only U2 could have made.  “So Cruel” feels much longer than it actually is, always consistent with the drums, piano, and bass but keeps layering with each verse and chorus.

The second half of Achtung Baby starts off with “The Fly”, one of the Edge’s finest guitar moments – if you can believe that it’s a guitar he’s playing on.  “Mysterious Ways” is the other famous track off the album, the other being “One”, and its beginning guitar lick and infectious chorus is as annoyingly catchy now as it was back in 1991.  There’s not a lot I can say about “Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World” except that it is such a cool song, something that could have only been made in the Achtung Baby universe.  “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” and “Acrobat” are both solid songs, but the best is saved for last.  “Love Is Blindness” ends the album on a dark, but powerful note.  The song depicts love as “a dangerous idea that almost makes sense” with spooky organs and raw guitar that builds but then slowly fades into nothing, leaving listeners hanging onto the very last note.

Considering the album that came before this was The Joshua Tree – sorry Rattle and Hum, but you don’t count as a legitimate album – Achtung Baby sounds so foreign, because it is.  Bono had found what he was looking for (get the reference?!) in Berlin, where the band initially tried to record the album (Achtung means “attention” in German).  The band absorbed European electro-club music and industrial music and gave it their own special twist.  Gone is the spiritual thirst and soaring guitars that accompanied songs about searching for truth and peace in America.  Now the Irish foursome is grooving to European club beats and distorted guitars looking for hot babes instead of God.

The album sounds like a giant industrial cluster-fuck because the recording of this album was the worst period of U2’s career.  Constantly on the verge of breaking up, the band just could not click and was getting nowhere.  Directionless and fearful of becoming culturally irrelevant, The band’s time in Berlin only made things worse when a lack of progress challenged the band’s patience and threatened the band’s career.  But then, in one of the great Rock n Roll stories of all time, the band came together and wrote “One”, which they credit to keeping the band together.  After “One” was completed the band got their shit together, went back home to Dublin, and finished recording what would be their best album.

Much like what Radiohead would do a decade later with Kid A, U2 created an album that was a complete 180 from what had worked for them in the past for the sake of artistic integrity.  The album is challenging to hear at first, and if you’re not a U2 fan this sure as hell won’t convert you into one.  However, after many listens, I would argue Achtung Baby to be one of the greatest albums to come out in recent time (Spin Magazine would agree with me).  Also like Kid A, the value of this album is just now beginning to be appreciated in a new generation.  Bono described Achtung Baby when it first came out as, “the sound of the band chopping down the Joshua tree”, and the wood that came from that tree made one hell of a fire.

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Top Lists: Great Albums Turning 20 This Year

One year shy of legal drinking!

1991 must have been an incredible year for music (I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t born yet!).  Many remember 1991 simply as the year Nirvana released Nevermind, which ended hair metal and began a grunge movement that bands today are still taking inspiration from.  As important as that album would become, there were many other albums released in 1991 that were just as good, if not better, than Nevermind.  For the 20th anniversary of the great year that was 1991 (it was also the year Silence of the Lambs came out!) let’s take a walk down memory lane and see what music was released.

Soundgarden – Badmoterfinger

Pearl Jam – Ten

Stevie Ray Vaughan – The Sky Is Crying

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusions I and II

U2 – Achtung Baby

B.B. King – Live at the Apollo

Nirvana – Nevermind

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque

Metallica – Metallica (The Black Album)

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Blur – Leisure

The inspiration for this post came from an article from Guitar World, check out that article here.

Any albums that I missed?  Hit me up on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Top Lists: Top Songs About The End Of The World

It’s bound to happen sometime.

Well apparently today is the end of world, and what better way to end our existence then to listen to some awesome music!  Here are some tunes to jam out to when the world blows up.

R.E.M. – “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

U2 – “Until The End Of The World”

John Mellencamp – “The End Of The World”

The Beatles – “The End”

Dave Matthews Band – “When The World Ends”

The Clash – “London Calling”

Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band – “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”

Pink Floyd – “Goodbye Cruel World”

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate today I’ve got some festive songs for ya’ll to hear.

John Mayer – St. Patrick’s Day (Because of the title.)

 

Dropkick Murphys – I’m Shipping Up to Boston (Because these guys are Irish.)

 

U2 – Walk On (because when I think of Ireland, I think of Bono.)

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