Every Noise At Once

I just came upon a rather amazing website called Every Noise at Once.

What this enterprising data project does is put every band/musician on Spotify on a map by genre. Click on the genre name and it plays a sample of the genre. Click on the little >> symbol next to the genre and it takes you to another map that has the names of all the bands.

Click on the band name and you’ll get a sample of their music. Click on the little >> symbol next to the band name and it will take you to a spotify playlist of their songs.

On the map, more techno music is up top, more organic is at the bottom. Denser music is to the left, while airier music is to the right. Generally, they say.

If there is a problem with this it’s that the music has to be on Spotify, which means the selections skew toward the contemporary, and I had a hard time finding old faves like Supershit 666 in the various Swedish maps, who aren’t on Spotify, but I also couldn’t find Hellacopters, who are. So the maps aren’t exhaustive. But on the other hand the real fun here is digging around and playing random clips. Which is where your free Spotify account comes in handy.

 

 

KKK Took My Baby Away X 2

The National, a ponderous musical enterprise that some speak of rapturously and whose music I’ve never been able listen to for more than a minute or two before changing the dial, played recently at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. They covered the Ramones, local boys one and all, and led off with a dark story.

The Ramones demonstrate how to do it right.

Are We Not Men? Pick Your Favorite Song from Devo’s Debut.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Devo lately. Not in any profound way, just thinking about listening when I got a chance. I got a chance today while making dinner. On goes Are We Not Men? We are Devo, which starts with the brilliant Uncontrollable Urge, moves onto (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, which I owned on 7″ long before the elpee came out, and then goes all over the freaking place. And I do mean freaking.

Remembering, at the time, I grouped the band with the Talking Heads, who had a similar angular geeky-ness, and the Tubes, who had an over the top theatricality. When I listen now I hear mostly classic rock moves, filtered through a novel lens, a lens which made it both surprising the band existed and that they then made hits with mainstream success and surprising that we didn’t see just how inevitable that was on first listen.

I think what I mean is, we knew weird. We loved Zappa, dug Alice Cooper, admired Captain Beefheart, but each of those personalities carved out his own space on the edges of taste and sensibility. They had some pop exposure, but they were happy to exist as novelties.

Devo carved out that space, then tried to bring the whole dang world into it. They were weird, uncompromising, and ambitiously popular, not content to reside on the sidelines with the other freaks. That was cool.

So, while listening to their first elpee tonight, I was struck by how strong the songs are. How little there is that is thrown away. Maybe none of it. And as I went from song to song I said to myself, That’s a great tune. Then, Oh, that’s a good one. Oooh, love it. Which got me thinking that maybe we all have different favorite songs from Are We Not Men? We Are Devo.

I’m laying claim to Mongoloid. It was the first Devo song I heard, it is the one I know all the words to and compulsively sing along to, but I’m pretty sure there are strong cases for others. What’s your favorite song on Devo’s first album?

 

Yes, Roundabout

This isn’t the only excellent Yes song.

But when I put on their History of Yes set, sorted randomly, I was quickly shunted into despair.

All the talk about virtuosity here, the reason we thought these songs were rock songs were because the drums spoke to us. The bass, too.

Wakefield. Capes. Pawns. As rock fans in the day this came out, it wasn’t exotic. It was music that evolved naturally out of Traffic and the Moody Blues and whatever.

Lester Bangs and the Delinquents, “I Just Want to Be a Movie Star”

Facebook friend Darren Viola posted some Christgau clips of 1977 live show previews of the B-52s and Fleshtones shows at Max’s, which are fun, but down in the comments was a link to this tune from 1980.

I didn’t know this one, which is great fun.

Listening to the whole album. Good!

Prog Rock Episode

I loved ELP’s version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

I loved Yes. I liked the Moody Blues. Fucking King Crimson.

Kelefah Sanneh wrote about prog rock in the New Yorker earlier this year. You can read his excellent piece here.

I loved much of this music. Virtuosity was important, but so was a big bottom. In my memory this was music that pounded was aggressive, like rock, but also exulted in notes and playing, and felt really good.

Sanneh gets that, which is why I’m here.

One thing I remember was that Scott Muni, the program director of WNEW as well as DJ, would often put on a whole side of Yes or the Moody Blues in order to take meetings while DJing. That usually worked, though WE knew.

There are lots of good suggestions about what you should listen to in Sanneh’s story, so go and listen to them. I’ve had three conversations in recent weeks about the Mahavishnu Orchestra. As Sanneh says, not prog, but passing.

And more than anything, you should listen to Bitches Brew.

 

 

 

Songs that immediately clicked

That’s what Lawr posted about. I’m with him on Locomotion.¬†Here’s his post about songs that grabbed him immediately. That’s a great idea, and I’m with him on Complete Control, maybe the greatest of the great Clash’s cuts.

I think he’s out of his mind on the Peter Gabriel, but that isn’t my call. What is my call is this is No. 1, without a doubt. Changed my life. Really.

But the Beatles were huger.