6.25.2009

Reissued: Galaxie 500



It's always interesting to muse about the various artists without whom it seems almost impossible to imagine the alternate course music would have taken. Certainly, a large portion of my record collection would not exist without the influence of the Velvet Underground. Certainly, a large percentage of current indie rock is derived, if not directly from the Velvets, from the large crop of late-80's/early-90's bands who were themselves disciples. There's an old adage -- I'm totally blanking on who said it originally, and a cursory search was no help -- that goes:
Not many people heard the Velvet Underground... but every one who did started a band.
One of those bands was Galaxie 500, who in turn could have a similar statement said of them. Which brings me to the actual news. While their album This Is Our Music has been oft reissued and is readily available on vinyl, the same cannot be said of the rest of their catalog. However, on July 28th, we shall see new vinyl reissues of both On Fire and Today. I can't wait. Maybe on July 29th, I'll start a new band.

(I realize that it's perhaps a bit odd to talk of the vast influence of Galaxie 500 and the Velvet Underground on the day that Michael Jackson died -- especially when, even combined, their total album sales are probably around 100 times lower than Jackson's.)

6.22.2009

Inventory

I have been a long-time fan of the A.V. Club's take on pop-culture. While parent publication, The Onion, gets regularly compiled in book form, there has only been one A.V. Club book thus far -- the [quite good, by the way] interview collection Tenacity Of The Cockroach, which was published in 2002. The A.V. Club is finally putting out a second book this October, this time a collection of writings their "Inventory" feature -- which one could probably deduce from the title:

Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Lists

It's the type of thing I enjoy way more [perhaps] than I should.

On a related note, I'm curious to check out A.V. Club head writer Nathan Rabin's new memoir (a genre I tend to approach cautiously) which is due out soon:

The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought To You By Pop-Culture

From the advertising copy:
Rabin writes movingly about how pop culture helped save him from suicidal despair, institutionalization, and parental abandonment -- throughout a childhood that sent him ricocheting from a mental hospital to a foster home to a group home for emotionally disturbed adolescents.
I have a soft spot for the "saved by pop-culture" idea. Always have. Probably always will. I might have more to say on the subject at some point, but my laptop is doing the overheating thing again (which is fun, because it starts making sounds like Chewbacca fucking a Roomba) so, I'm just going to cut this short for now.

6.13.2009

Looking forward to forgetting

A few nights ago I was watching The Daily Show and during a commercial break I caught a very familiar piano melody -- the one that opens Matt & Kim's "Daylight."* Bacardi is using the track in their recent ad campaign which (as far as I can tell from cursory searching) began airing sometime early last month:



Oh, and just so we're clear up front about this: I have no intention of tossing around any accusations of "selling out" (ah, that old and overused idiotic term) or other similarly adolescent nonsense. No one likes the guy in the room who says things like "Oh, I used to like that band, but now they're a bunch of sellouts."

That said, I'm still fairly amused by the late comedian Bill Hicks' take on the subject**:
If you do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll-call forever... There's a price on your head. Every word you say is suspect... And that goes for everybody, except Willie Nelson... I just try to avert my eyes whenever he's singing about tacos.
Thanks to YouTube, said commercial -- which, years ago, Willie Nelson did to help pay off his gigantic IRS debt -- is preserved for all to see:



In a strange way, it's better (from my perspective as listener and fan) if an artist performs some new jingle for a commercial, thus at least preventing their catalog of songs I actively listen to from conjuring up the brand in question. It does bum me out a little bit that when I hear Matt & Kim's "Daylight", my brain will continue to bring up the association with Bacardi. Which, of course, is certainly among the goals for the advertising campaign, and why Bacardi is willing to pay to use the song. If you know anything about just how little musicians tend to get paid, it's also easy to understand why artists say yes.

The nice thing is that, in time, Bacardi will move onto the next ad campaign, and perhaps I'll eventually forget all about it. That's my hope, at any rate. We shall see. It doesn't work all the time. I certainly haven't forgotten about Of Montreal allowing their song "Wraith Pined to the Mist" to have the lyrics completely repurposed to suit the needs of Outback Steakhouse:



While searching for that commercial, I also discovered that Of Montreal also did a commercial for T-Mobile, in which they also star:



I was also surprised recently when one of the most recognizable songs in The Sea And Cake catalog, "Jacking The Ball", recently found its way into a CitiBank commercial:



It's of no use to complain about it, in part because I'd likely have a difficult time turning down cash for music I'd written were someone to offer, unless it were for something absurdly (or unrealistically) horrible -- as in, "No, sir, you may not use that song in your new advertisement for cholera." Also, complaining would be pretty darn futile.

I do, though, look forward to the point in the future when I've put these ads -- and the numerous others featuring music I care about -- out of mind.

_________
* It's a damn catchy song. On a recent trip to Chicago, there were multiple occasions when, while walking down the street, I would spontaneously begin humming the piano line out loud. Tangentially, I refused to pick up the LP while I was there, because I've always had a hard time accepting that I liked Matt & Kim, in part (as I explained to my friend Jon, in the record store where he had pointed out that the album, Grand, was in stock) because Matt & Kim were sort of similar to Mates Of State, and I had spent nearly 10 years hating Mates Of State, and it felt like enjoying Matt & Kim was to admit that I had been wrong all these years about Mates Of State. I have since both bought Grand and relistened to some of the Mates Of State catalog -- I remain unconvinced overall, but will admit now that they have their moments.
** The bit is, primarily, a brutal skewing of Jay Leno, in no small part because of Leno hocking Doritos. In case you've never heard it, the version from
Rant In E-Minor appears below: