Friday, October 30, 2015

Duranland and Electric Barbarella

Cousin Shane messaged me yesterday and said he was loving a new CD that we both recently got, and I had to admit that I hadn’t listened to it yet because I’m still in Duranland!

It’s true. After a month of listening to the new album, Paper Gods, and nothing else, I’ve managed to listen to some of their other albums lately. (When I’m in the house, I usually listen to satellite channels, so I do have other music playing throughout the day.)

Today I revisited one that I have not played much: 1997’s Medazzaland. This came out when all of the Taylors (John, Andy, and Roger) were not in the band, although John has songwriting credit for a few of the songs. Warren Cuccurullo was the guitarist at this point, and I dig Warren’s work with them. I think he’s a great guitarist and added a real edge to their music, and that is not at all a slam against Andy Taylor or their current guitarist, Dom Brown. Different iterations of the band, lots of great music, and I won’t disparage any of them.

One thing that I miss very much on this album, though, is the heavy bass groove that John Taylor provides to the band. I guess it’s one of those “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” things, but you can really tell when he’s not a part of the recordings.

That being said, this album holds up better than I originally thought. It has almost a trippy, psychedelic feel to it. There is some darkness to it, too, with the creepy stalker vibe of “Be My Icon” and the track “Electric Barbarella.” It’s a standout track with a great groove to it, about taking a sex doll home from the store. The video is great but also has a creepy vibe, with all three of the band members sharing their new, artificial girlfriend. Yikes!

This is also a nice opportunity for a trivia question. Who knows the connection between this song title and the band’s name?

Enjoy. Who doesn’t love a happy song about three boys and their sex doll?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

True Confessions

These boots are made for walking
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna
Walk all over you
Are you ready, boots? Start walkin’!
~~ Nancy Sinatra, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
I have to admit it. I’m a walking stereotype.

But least I’m walking in cool shoes!

I’ve always tried to kind of make my own kind of music and sing my own kind of song. I don’t think I’m much of a stereotypical anything. I’m a bookworm, but I love sports; I love music, but I prefer to find off-the-beaten-path things that few others are listening to; I’m firmly rooted in science, but I can completely suspend disbelief and enjoy movies and stories that make little to no sense and have no basis in fact; I was raised in rural Indiana, but I’m super liberal and am no fan of the Republicans. Ha! I just had to throw that last one in there after last night’s debate. There are a few things where I simply cannot suspend my disbelief, and one of them is trickle-down economics!

Anyway, I’ve always liked to make my own pathway and avoid stereotypes. However, I’m a walking talking stereotype when it comes to one thing: shoes.

That’s right, I’m that person that people make fun of when they talk about “women who buy shoes.” I mean, obviously, ALL women buy shoes, but I have a bit of an obsession with fun and unusual shoes. I think I’ve pretty much always been that way. Picking out shoes for the new school year was always fun for me, and I was pretty excited about my first pair of shoes with a heel in sixth grade. Even more exciting was getting a pair of Earth Shoes for Christmas one year when I was in high school! My parents didn’t indulge my shoe obsession, but when I got out on my own, it was Katy bar the door!

I recall fondly the pair of thigh-high suede boots in the ‘80s. Also the black suede ankle boots from that era. There were the platform sandals I wore out clubbing in the ‘90s (a white pair, a sparkly black pair, and a silver pair). A while back I found a great sale on some Keds I really like—like regular Keds but with an open back—and bought several pairs: white mesh, white canvas, black mesh, turquoise, red, tan, and navy canvas. I love casual platform sandals and I love flat gladiator sandals. Thankfully, I don’t have expensive tastes. No Blahniks or Jimmy Choo for me. Heck, I don’t even own a pair of Doc Martens, and those are some very cool shoes! One of my favorite pairs of footwear ever was a pair of moonboots I found at Goodwill back in the ‘80s. Bright yellow vinyl with a white wedge platform heel. I wore the hell out of those moonboots but finally had to say goodbye when the soles completely cracked. Farewell, moonboots. I still remember you fondly.

I have a pair of knee-high black boots with a chain on the back; I have knee-high black boots with several straps on the calf, inspired by Carol from The Walking Dead; I remember my Dad’s black combat boots from when he was in the National Guard and I always loved those, so I have a couple of pairs of that style. I have silver hightops and I have hightops with a record print on them. I have shoes that I wear often and I have shoes that I have never worn—at least not yet.

My most recent inspiration has come from Duran Duran. Of course, I’ve loved the band for years, but as I’ve been watching them lately, my laser-focus shoe eyes immediately noticed the absolutely super cool shoes they all wear. They’ve always liked their fashion, and their shoes are just the best. Check these out. I was especially captivated by Simon’s black and white buckle shoes in the photo at the top, but I also love Nick’s silver oxfords in this photo.
So I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately (although these are not super expensive shoes!). Click to embiggenate.
I got these black buckle shoes with a grey vamp, similar to Simon’s black and white ones, and in my research, I learned that these are called brothel creepers. I remember them from back in the punk days but never had a pair. I think they are very cool and I’m glad they are making a comeback! I wore these to our recent house show with Bob Walkenhorst, and I wore them to the Duran Duran concert in Berkeley. So these shoes have seen some great musicians and I’m sure they’ll see some more!
Along the same line, I got these black wingtip oxford creepers. These will be great concert shoes. They are cool-looking but also comfortable, especially for standing for long periods.
Then there are these gorgeous black and white patent kilties. Squeeeee! These will go great with my black and white checked suit jacket!

I’ve been coveting Nick’s silver oxfords and finally found something similar: these silver buckled creepers! They have been ordered and will be on their way soon!

I think I’m done for a while (I’m sure Ken will be very relieved), and I even went into DSW the other day and walked out without buying a single thing. So I do have some willpower, both with price and with simply saying, “No, I don’t need to buy a pair of shoes right now.”

I may be a cliché, but I suppose there are worse vices to have. Perhaps I’ll see you out for a stroll some evening...just be sure to notice my shoes!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beth’s Music Moment: Seek and Ye Shall Find

A topic came up on Facebook today, one that I see pop up every so often. A friend posted a story in which a ‘70s rocker said that something like how rock is “dead” because of downloading and filesharing. That’s some major bullshit right there. Not to mention any names, but maybe this rocker who used to wear a lot of makeup and has an extremely long tongue is just pissed because HIS music isn’t selling much anymore!

Anyway, my friend went on to say that he thinks rock is dead because “a lot of the new stuff sucks.” This isn’t a slam on him, by any means. He is one of my favorite Bookface friends and he posts a lot of great stuff (love ya, Gregg!). But I think he is dead wrong on this and I said that I disagreed with him. We had a productive (if short) discussion there, and he asked for a few recommendations.

I really don’t like this pronouncement and I hear it way too often. No, rock isn’t dead. No, current music doesn’t suck. Some of it does, that’s for sure! But as I pointed out, you aren’t going to hear the good stuff on the radio. This is where the dedicated, proactive music fan needs to step up. There is all kinds of great music being made out there, but you have to step outside your usual zone in order to find it. This is one reason the Interwebz is so great; even if you don’t have a vibrant music scene in your community, you can still check out music that is being made all over these United States and all over the world! It’s wonderful!

Here are a couple of ways to find new music that trips your trigger.

  1. Free download sites like NoiseTrade. This is where I’ve found tons of great new music I never would have found otherwise. You can tip the artists whatever amount you want, but I’ve found that if a band just immediately jumps out at me (one of those “Holy shit, this is GREAT!” moments), I usually seek out their music to purchase via whatever method I can. It is often Amazon, but sometimes I get it through Bandcamp, which is another great site to find new music. Speaking of Amazon, they also sometimes offer free MP3 downloads of compilations or single songs. I’ve found some good stuff that way, too.
  2. If you have a local music scene, GO SEE THE BANDS. Groove to their music, get up and dance, cheer them on, buy their merchandise, and as I always say, show the band some love! We are fortunate in that South Bend has a vibrant music scene and quite a few venues to see these local bands. It’s not like a big concert with the light show and big-time audio. It’s just local bands setting up their own equipment and working hard to entertain the audience. Be in that audience! Let the bands know that their talent and hard work is appreciated!
  3. Have a pal or a relative who is into finding new music and is always willing to turn you onto something they think you’ll love or who posts about the new stuff they find. Shane and I have been Music Buddies for decades, and we are always saying, “Hey, check this out!” One of my fantastic recent finds was, if I recall correctly, a free download from Amazon. That was Temples, one of the best new bands I’ve heard in years. An amazing throwback psychedelic sound. It blew me away and I knew that Shane would love it, too. I was right!

Since Gregg asked for some recommendations, I told him a few of some of my recent finds through these avenues, and I’ll share some videos here.

First up is Shake Before Us out of San Diego. I immediately loved the ‘70s garage band sound, complete with...not sure about my instruments that a Moog? A Farfisa? I don’t know, but it’s a rave up!

Next is Broncho. They are out of Oklahoma City (What?! I know!) and they are so much fun! We actually got to see them live in Chicago when they opened for Billy Idol on several dates on his North American tour. They were great live, and I only wish they had played longer than a half an hour.

Next is Velcro Mary out of Charlotte, North Carolina (What?! I know!). More garage band sound (are you sensing a pattern?) and it turns out that Velcro Mary consists of one guy, Jason, making music in his home. We exchanged several emails and it was fun to learn more about him and about his music. You can get VM’s new album, “Leave a Light On” here.

Finally, here’s a video from one of our most-beloved local bands, The Rutabega, from right here in South Bend. They are an absolute blast to see live and we do so every chance we get. They make an amazing sound for just two guys, with an additional vocalist on some songs.

If you love music, get out there and look for the good stuff. It really is out there. (I haven’t even touched on long-established artists who are still making great music, including The Rainmakers, Prince, Devo, Bowie, and of course, my beloved Duran Duran!)

Happy listening!