Category Archives: Video Clips

Marissa Nadler covers Black Sabbath

Okay, so right off the bat I should warn that this isn’t actually a video clip (as advertised above). Today I’m going to highlight a couple audio clips from Marissa Nadler’s SoundCloud page, and I didn’t know what category to put this under. I could have created a new category called “Audio Clip of the Week” but that has the potential of never being used again.

The other day while I was perusing Twitter (you can follow us: @BDWPS), when I stumbled upon a post by Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drops fame. I follow Fantano because he has his finger on the pulse of new music, sometimes alerting me to artists I may not have heard of.  Personally, I find his YouTube video album reviews to be a little too much about promoting himself and not enough about promoting great music, but I digress.

His ear for music can not be discredited, as seen in a short post he put up this week with a link to Marissa Nadler’s Soundcloud page, saying that she’d covered Black Sabbath’s “Solitude.”  As a longtime supporter of Nadler and her unique brand of doom folk, I had to give it a listen. I’m not always a fan of covers because in most cases, artists just do their best impression of the original. This is what makes Nadler’s clip so amazing. Instead of trying to do some acoustic take on Sabbath, Nadler makes it completely her own and the result sounds almost nothing like the original. While the original version is calm and regal, Nadler’s version is a haunting dirge.

As I perused her Soundcloud page, I discovered that she’s been posting gems for the past year, including a fantastic cover of Elliot Smith’s “Pitseleh,” an ironic take on Father John Misty’s “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings,” and an epic vocal arrangement of the Game of Thrones theme song. There’s also tons more goodness to be had, including covers of Radiohead, Daniel Johnston, and Townes Van Zandt. Check it all out here: https://soundcloud.com/marissanadler

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Brian Wilson “Smart Girls”

Earlier this week I saw the Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy and was blown away by the films ability to capture Wilson’s struggles with mental illness. I’m usually not a fan of biographical films because the filmmaker feels like they have to tell every moment of the person’s life. Instead, Love and Mercy focuses in on two key moments in Brian’s life: the birth of Pet Sounds and his struggles with mental illness in his later life.  The two time periods are inter-spliced, parallel storylines that bounce off each other and cover the spectrum of Wilson – his brilliance and his insecurities.

I like to consider myself an expert on Brian Wilson (okay, I read a biography about his life – it counts!), and I went into the film with a skeptical eye but left the theater blown away by director Bill Pohlad’s ability to truly capture what made Brian tick. Don’t wait to see this movie on DVD/Netflix; the surround sound audio experience alone will help you to understand Brian’s way of hearing the world around him. Perhaps the most captivating moment is early in the movie when the screen goes black and you hear the ideas of a song growing around you, each speaker playing a melody, all eventually melding into one.

Everything about this film is perfect, especially the acting. John Cusack may not look much like an elder version of Wilson, but he sure captures the nervous ticks and internal struggles of the brilliant musician. Perhaps even more impressive was Paul Dano as a younger, more upbeat Wilson. Based off his performance, this kid has a bright future ahead of him.  But my favorite performance of all had to be Paul Giamatti as Wilson’s controlling therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy. I love Giamatti in everything he does (even the horrible films), and he doesn’t disappoint in Love and Mercy, viciously tearing down Wilson throughout.

The only part of the Wilson/Landy storyline that I felt needed a bit more development was their songwriting relationship.  Briefly, the film shows Landy forcing Wilson to write music, but it doesn’t truly capture the all-encompassing approach Landy had with Wilson’s music. In the biography Catch a Wave: the Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Brian Wilson, Peter Ames Carlin reveals the crippling effect Landy had on Brian’s creative process. He tried to push Wilson into writing more pop songs rather than his lush, unpredictable arrangements. Landy included himself as co-writer on all of his songs during that time period. He even took over writing many of the lyrics, often resembling the poetry of a 12-year old.

Perhaps the most appalling creation to come out of those Landy/Wilson sessions is a song called “Smart Girls.” The song that was to be featured on Sweet Insanity (an album that the label refused to release for obvious reasons) is a rap song. Yes, a Brian Wilson RAP SONG! While the story behind the disastrous track is not clear, it can be assumed that Landy’s yearning for hit songs influenced the creation of this atrocity. I think the inclusion of this song in the film would have really showed viewers what a horrible influence Landy had on Wilson. You can listen to this song in two ways. One, you can feel sorry for Brian for lowering himself to this abysmal track. Or two, you can enjoy the song in all is ridiculousness.

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Bob Dylan Performs on David Letterman’s 2nd to Last Show

“What are the two most important things to know in the world? One is to be nice to other people. Two, the greatest songwriter of modern times is Bob Dylan. That’s all you need to know in life.”

– David Letterman

When I first heard the news, I was leery. “Bob Dylan to appear on David Letterman’s second to last episode.” I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan (the blog is named after him, after all), but I’ve not been much of a fan of his work over the past decade. Whether it be the debacle that was his Grammy performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards or the joke of a Christmas album that he released in 2009, Dylan’s old age is showing in his most recent efforts.

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Spuran Spuran “Spurs”

 

You already know I’m a music junkie, but this obsession is almost matched with my fervor for San Antonio Spurs basketball.  I spend many-a-night combing my two favorite things – there’s nothing better than a Spurs game set to some good ol’ doom metal.  Despite the reality that BDWPS.com is  a music blog, I’ve found ways over the years to sneak a little bit of this Spurs fandom into posts. In the past I’ve compared legendary music producer Steve Albini to Spurs coach Greg Popovich, I’ve used a  prog-rock video from Hocus Pocus to express my joy after a big Spurs win, and I’ve even used the Spurs as an excuse for why I haven’t blogged lately.

Last year I even used an entire post to try and convince the BDWPS faithful that Spurs power forward Matt Bonner is the DIY hero of the NBA by pointing out his friendships with the likes of Arcade Fire and War On Drugs, his shoe deal with the unlikely New Balance, his sandwich blog, and his various comedic videos posted to YouTube over the years.

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Screaming Lord Sutch

In the 1988 comedy Big, Tom Hank’s over-sized child of a character suggests to his toy company employers that they create an interactive comic book. I remember as a kid thinking this was the coolest idea ever (I also thought the Transformer/building that gets mocked in the film would be cool, so let’s take my 10-year old opinion with a grain of salt). 28 years later, there are a few Apps that offer an interactive, graphic novel experience, but the concept never took off like the film suggested it would. As an adult, I don’t have much interest in this would-be invention, but I’ve recently found the added pleasure of using the web to enhance my reading experience.

“I don’t get it! I don’t get it! I don’t get it!”

My foray into the world of interactive reading first took shape while reading the Bryan Wilson biography Catch a Wave. The book would often reference early recordings I’d never heard and television appearances I’d never seen. As I obsessively read the rollercoaster of a novel (it’s a must read for fans of music), I found myself referencing the YouTube search engine every page or so. This added to the experience, the video clips revealing more to the stories told in the book. So when Mike Love decided in 1988 to eviscerate every other artist at the Beach Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, I was able to watch it again and again – Mike Love’s self-absorbed delusions on full display.

Recently while reading Marc Spitz biography entitled Bowie, I’ve found myself going through the same interactive reading experience. Whether it be David Bowie’s all-time favorite childhood song, his first television appearance on a commercial for Luv Ice Cream, or his work as a mime, this virtual appendix has made for nightly YouTube gold discoveries as I’ve learned about Bowie’s difficult start in show business.

But one video search in accordance with the novel caught me off-guard more than any other. In the spring of 1970, David Bowie went to see Alice Cooper perform, and the novel suggests Bowie was inspired to take the theatrics seen on stage and match it with serious songwriting (sorry folks, Alice Cooper is not known for his prowess as a songsmith). The book discusses how Bowie had been interested in the flamboyant stage persona for years, dating back to the mid-60s when he saw Screaming Lord Sutch perform. Reading this, I had to ask myself “Who the hell is Screaming Lord Sutch?”

YouTube to the rescue. In a clip dating back to 1964, I found Screaming Lord Sutch performing an early rock and roll number entitled “Jack the Ripper.” Sutch can be seen parading around the stage, a ghastly Nosferatu of a character, terrorizing the easily scared females in the front row.

I had to know more about this guy. How had I never heard of him? It wasn’t the music that intrigued me (far from), but I couldn’t understand how a frontman dressing up in the 1960s equivalent of Marilyn Manson didn’t cause more of a panic. I could be wrong in this assertion, but Sutch might be the first rock musician to marry rock music with a theatrical stage persona. It’s sloppily done – the costume resembling a mish-mash of clearance Halloween leftovers, the music a derivative Fats Domino number with spoof lyrics – but I feel that maybe Sutch deserves a little more credit for the innovation of his stage presence. Would there have been a Kiss, an Alice Cooper, or a Ziggy Stardust without Screaming Lord Sutch? Probably, but there is something to be said about being the first to don a costume before taking the stage.

In the 60s, a knife and a severed head were considered good family fun.

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Favorite New Videos

 

A few weeks ago the MTV Video Music Awards took place, and to be honest, I didn’t watch. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I viewed the yearly event (probably in a dorm room over a decade ago).  I hate to play the “back in my day” card, but I do feel that there was a time when the VMAs were legitimately about rewarding great music videos and not just a popularity contest. Big winners in 2014 include former child stars like Miley Cyrus and Drake, and Lorde was awarded the “Best Rock Video” of the year for her song “Royals.” You know, THIS SONG that doesn’t feature any guitars and is built around a looping hip-hop beat? Can we all just agree that rock (at least the popular variety) is dead?

On social media I’ve seen some bemoan the age-old complaint that MTV doesn’t even play music videos anymore, but I think it’s time to get over the fact they haven’t been a music channel for over a decade. Some have suggested that music videos don’t matter anymore. However, I think they are more important than they have been since their explosion in the 80s. Young people have turned to YouTube as a major source of music listening, often playing the same video multiple times just to re-hear their favorite OneDirection song. The highest rated videos on YouTube aren’t of people on fire, or people getting hit in the nuts, but music videos of teeny-bop stars (hence why YouTube has now started its own music awards).

I am still old-fashioned in my listening habits, predominantly purchasing LPs and CDs with the occasional MP3 when I can’t wait until my next record store visit. Despite my out-of-touch approach to music, I do still check out new music videos on occasion. I’m not spending hours online watching videos, but I do have some new videos that I’ve watched several times. Here are some of my favorite videos as of late.

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Video Clip of the Week: Focus “Hocus Pocus” ’73

I’m not sure if it’s a known fact here on BDWPS, but I’m a huge San Antonio Spurs fan.  My obsession with Spurs basketball rivals my enthusiasm with indie music. Needless to say, I’ve been in full celebration mode since the Spur dismantled the Miami Heat a few weeks ago.  After the Spur’s game 3 victory, I was checking my twitter for news updates and snarky comments from fellow fans.  Amidst my state of bliss, I came upon the following tweet from indie rocker Mikal Cronin.

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