Tag Archives: Muse

The Daring Adventures of Richard Thompson

I’ve inherited a lot of my musical tastes from my dad. His record and CD collection played a big part in weaning me away from just new releases. I’ve got a really distinct memory of driving down the highway in the back of the car listening to Paul Simon’s “Look at That” trying to imitate his quick scatting in the second half of the song (on the topic of Paul Simon, I also remembered being absolutely shocked by his song “Pig, Sheep, and Wolves” when I was young). Other guitarists like Nick Drake, Leo Kottke and Chris Smither also played a big role in my musical childhood.

Richard Thompson

But the artist that brings back above and beyond the most memories is Richard Thompson. Hailing from West London, Thompson, a skilled guitarist and the son of a Scottish detective, formed his first band (named “Emil and the Detectives”) at his all boys high school. That was around 1967. By 1972, after playing with two more bands, Thompson was playing solo with his newly married wife, Linda Thompson.

But it wasn’t until after their separation in 1982 that Thompson really fell into stride with the audience he had been collecting: members of the rock and folk communities, as well as those drawn in by his Scottish and jazz influences. In 1991, Rumor and Sigh was nominated for a Grammy, and rightly so. One of his singles off of that album is still the most requested song on NPR. Can you guess which one?

1996 saw the release of You? Me? Us?, my favorite Richard Thompson album to date. The record was released as a double disc set – one side labeled “nude” and the other “voltage enhanced” and they make a truly unique listening experience. “Business on You” is a great track, but he also provides dual versions of “Hide It Away” and “Razor Dance”, which are lovely to hear back to back.

Richard Thompson released his latest album Sweet Warrior in 2007, and has managed to preserve the sound and styles while evolving and pushing the boundaries of his music. “Needle and Thread”, the first song on the album is a great example of this. It’s a throwback to some of the songs off of You? Me? Us? but has a lovely new feeling to it.

But there have been a few gems that have popped up online that  stick out of the regular Richard Thompson canon for a variety of reasons.

Obviously, this one was a shocker when it first appeared on the internet:

At first it seems to be a trifling cover, but as one YouTube commenter says “I think It’s [sic] amazing how [Richard Thompson] can play a bit of fluff and take it beyond irony into something artistically relevant.” Too true, adjectivesarecool – especially the section when Thompson takes the pop song and changes it into a 12/8 folk instrumental.

But going back to Rumor and Sigh, there was one song that didn’t quite fit in with rest of the pack. That was “Psycho Street” – apparently Thompson’s “antidote” to an Australian song about hopelessly happy neighbors. Here we see a decidedly younger and more energetic Thompson howling and acting and quipping from behind the mike:

If you missed some of those lyrics, I’ll give you a sample.

A man has an inflatable doll made that looks exactly like his wife.
He murders his wife, dissolves her body in acid, and marries the doll
Three years later he leaves her, for another doll…

Thompson’s music has become somewhat tempered in the twenty years that have come and gone since that video was made. However, his quirkiness is still quite intact at 61. As we know, with age comes wisdom – something that Richard Thompson is known for appreciating to its fullest. Here’s a song all about his love for women – of the wise and intelligent kind, of course:

Thompson, who played the Paramount Theatre in Peekskill last year doesn’t have any New York shows coming up soon, but I highly recommend you see him when you have the chance. So, thanks Dad for introducing me to some great music. Maybe one day I’ll convince you that Muse deserves a second listen, yeah?

Happy Listening,

~Josh

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Concerts This Week:

FLAMING LIPS!!! TONIGHT!! GO SEE IT!! 8 pm at the Wellmont Theater

Jakob Dylan @ Town Hall on Wednesday at 8 pm.

Thursday’s got a bunch of shows:
– Famed Jennifer-Lover (ew) Mike Doughty will be at Le Poisson Rouge at 7 pm
– Hot Chip (see last week’s post!) will be playing at Terminal 5 at 8 pm (or catch them the next night, also at Terminal 5 but at 9.

Friday will bring you Mr. Elvis Costello at United Palace 8pm
– Also see Willie Nile at the Turning Point in Piermont on Friday!

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PEAK KEYWORD: INFLATABLE

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10 Categories, 10 Albums – 100% Awesome: The 2009 Record of Records

As the holiday season is coming to a close, the last throes of Christmas music are making their way over the airwaves. I heard a whimsical song yesterday called “Merry Christmas Baby, Please Don’t Die” (a joint effort by Crocodile and the Dum Dum Girls) and it put me in a great mood, something good tunes often do. So as you’re ringing in the year, I hope some of these records, and the tunes on them, jangle something in your aorta and make you excited about great world class rock. So here are ten whimsical categories, in no real order, and ten great albums that fit ’em. Ok, enough said. Let’s get started.

10. Peak Pick: Chris Herrmann’s Fav

Album: Wilco (The Album)
Band: Wilco
Why: Ok, so I haven’t talked to Chris on this one, but as the Peak’s Program director, he deserves a spotlight. He’s said to me that he wants to be remembered as the guy who brought Wilco to the Peak. And Jeff Tweedy & Co. are making it easier and easier for him to do that. They’ve come a long way since some of their rawer albums, broadening their sound and reaching a huge audience. This album’s a great step up from their last Sky, Blue Sky – and definitely one to check out from this year.
Starter Tracks: “You Never Know”, “One Wing” and “Wilco (The Song)”

9. Best Sound


Album: The Satanic Satanist
Band: Portugal. The Man
Why: The first track on the album, “People Say”, has got everything you could want from a solid rock song – a great hook, tight guitar, organ, and it only gets better from there. “Work All Day” sinks into a subterranean world of soul. And later on, “Do You” almost outshines the rest of the album with it’s burning intensity. The drum and guitar tracks and the vocals and well, pretty much everything sounds great on this album.
Starter Tracks: “Work All Day”, “Do You” and “The Sun”

8. Greatest Expectations

Album: Them Crooked Vultures
Band: Them Crooked Vultures
Why: With great names comes great responsibility. And few names hold star power like John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme do. That being said almost everyone who was waiting for the release of this record held almost impossibly high hopes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great record, but people were going to be disappointed if it fell anywhere short of Led Zeppelin II or Nevermind. But a sick record nonetheless, that finds a great rock ‘n’ roll groove and holds it’s own from start to finish.
Starter Tracks: Three great songs in a row: “Elephants”, “Scumbag Blues” and “Bandoliers”

7. Funnest

Album: I Think We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
Band: The Brighton Port Authority (The BPA)
Why: Yes. You, me and everyone knows that “funnest” is not a word (and OK, “You, everyone and I”). But there’s not a better way to describe this Fatboy Slim project. With each song on the album featuring a different artist, this record is fun times from start to finish. Sure some of the songs may not be “good” (see psych pop singer Connan Mockasin’s track “Jumps the Fence” – mostly because he sings the same seven words for a whole minute) but all are poppy and catchy and most importantly fun to listen to.
Starter Tracks: “He’s Frank” (feat. Iggy Pop), “Toe Jam” (feat. David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal) and “Seattle” (feat. Emmy the Great)

6. Smallest Size, Biggest Punch

Album: Our Living Funeral
Band: Zombie Season
Why: The resurgence of Lo-Fi + An inventive take on the Arcade Fire’s sound + zombies = the essence of awesomeness. Zombie Season is a small, nearly unheard of band (compare Zombie Season’s 14,400 views on MySpace to Coldplay’s 34 million, Aimee Mann’s 1.4 Million or even Black Taxi’s 120,000). ZS was created only last year by Ali Jafaar out of the University of Minnesota. But don’t mess with them just because they’re small. They’ve got a powerfully dark sound, and a solid two records out. Our Living Funeral is a great follow-up to their 2008 EP, “Life is Tragic”. So they’re definitely worth a listen.

Starter Tracks: “Evil Heart” off of Our Living Funeral and “Slow Out” and “Heart Attack” off of “Life is Tragic”

5. Most Over-the-Top

Album: The Resistance
Band: Muse
Why: For most people who’ve heard this album, this one is pretty self explanatory. For those who haven’t, I think their over-the-topness can be best portrayed by a walkthrough of their song, “I Belong to You (+ Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix)”. So, 0:00 to 0:13 – poppy piano and sensuous crooning from Matt Bellamy. 0:14 – cue the full chorus and bell tree. 0:22 – a full showtunes-y glissando on the piano leads into the first verse. 2:08 – the song fades into an aria from the French opera, Samson and Delilah, sung in full voice by Bellamy 3:13 – the drums come back in and an orchestra joins the chorus as Bellamy’s voice spirals upwards. 4:35 – the glissando marks the return to the main song with a bouncy bass clarinet solo. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The first time I heard that part I laughed out loud. Only Muse could pull it off, and only Muse deserves this category.

Starter Tracks: “I Belong to You (+ Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix)”, “Uprising” and “Exogenisis: Symphony, Pts. 1-3”

4. Indiest

Album: THREE WAY TIE: Veckatimest, Merriweather Post Pavillion, and xx
Bands: Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, and The xx respectively
Why: This year, Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective have dominated indie charts and minds. Stereogum ran an article back in January pre-empting Merriweather Post Pavillion as the best album of 2009, and Veckatimest has been hot on the trail ever since its May release. But the sleeper here is the London-based group, The xx, a band so cool that they don’t need to move in their music videos. Their first record, xx, placed above both other bands on Rolling Stone’s 25 Best Albums of 2009, reaching the 8th spot. Take a listen, and you’ll be drawn in by the quiet intensity held in every pause in their lyrics.
Starter Tracks: Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks”, Animal Collective’s “My Girls”, and The xx’s “Crystalised”

3. Most Innovative

Album: Agressively Humble
Band: Chll Pll
Why: “I’ve never experienced a man like you.” “That’s because I’m not a man I’m a [blowing noise that sounds like a rainbow]”. This is how Chll Pll (formed by Zac Nelson of Hexlove and Zach Hill of Wavves), starts off their debut album, Aggressively Humble. But there’s not a lot of humility to be found here. The album is subtitled “Ten Rips by Chll Pll”, which is certainly more accurate. The Zac(h)s tear their way through distortion, polyrhythms, and plenty of electronic effects. It’s out there for sure, but that’s no reason to not embrace a band that’s too cool even for vowels.
Starter Tracks: “Dick Moves”, “She Owns”, “Pass Out”

2. NY’s Best Backyard Album

Album: Things of That Nature
Band: Black Taxi
Why: ’nuff said.
Starter Tracks: “Up Here For Thinking, Down There For Dancing”, “Pretty Mama” and “Shoeshine”

1. Most Likely to Be Compared to a Meteor: 2009’s Record of Records

Album: Wolfgang Amadeus
Band: Phoenix
Why: A few reasons. First: just months after Wolfgang Amadeus was released, a remixes album was put out. Second: artists who contributed this remix album include Animal Collective, Chairlift, and Passion Pit. Third: It is Time Magazine’s 5th best album of the year, Rolling Stone’s 3rd, and it generally placed between 10 and 1 on other charts, usually on the 1 side of the spectrum. Now, I’m not a huge phoenix fan (disclosure: on their track, “1901” I thought the hook  was “balling” instead of “falling” but it makes much more sense now) but I can appreciate catchy music when I hear it. And they’re the first French band to click over here in a long time. So when I watch ticket prices for their sold-out shows rising steadily, I can tell you that next year is only going to be better and bigger for this band.

Starter Tracks: “1901”, “Lisztomania” and “Love Like a Sunset Pts. 1 & 2”

So that just about wraps up this decade. As always, check back here for news about bands, records and of course, the station bringing you World Class Rock, 107.1 The Peak. Have a safe and happy new year.

Best,

~Josh

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PEAK KEYWORD: 2010

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“More People at Giants Stadium for U2 Than Even the Pope”

U2 sold-out all 80,000 seats in Giants Stadium  

U2 sold-out all 84,400 seats in Giants Stadium both nights.

…Says the New York Times. Our favorite weird-sunglasses wearer has done it again – playing an awesome, packed show last weekend in New York’s backyard for our listening pleasure. It was so packed, in fact, that travelers on New Jersey transit experienced heavy delays on either end of the show. One irate fan spent 5 hours getting there and another three getting home (albeit from Babylon, NY).

Playing on Bruce Springsteen’s 60th birthday, U2 appealed to fans with a cover of “She’s the One”.

Both U2 and Muse, who opened up the show, are coming off of new albums – Muse just released their symphonic-rock “Resistance” on September 9th, and U2 had released “No Line on the Horizon” earlier this year.

But album promotion is hardly the reason for these tours. In Rolling Stone Bono says “we’re having [laughs] more fun than anyone should be allowed.” Which seems to apply to the audience as well. Chris Hermann was at the show with Rob Arrow and had the following to say:

I thought the show was terrific on Thursday Night.  Muse was a little loud but held their own and warmed up the place. The drummer rocked.

I’ve seen every U2 tour since “Unforgettable Fire.”  They somehow manage to raise the bar each time out – and that’s saying something.  For as imposing as the set was, they still managed to be intimate in a record crowd of 84,400 and change.    From the “Space Oddity” open, the show rocked.  Adam Clayton is my hero!  Steady, brilliant – the thing would fall apart without him.  The core of it – Adam, Larry and Mr. The Edge are nothing short of grand masters.  Bono sounded maybe a little thin but cast his enigmatic shadow long all night.  I loved the set list – especially “The Unforgettable Fire,” “Until The End Of The World” and the acoustic and spellbinding “Stay (Faraway So Close)”.  The big moments – “Elevation,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” etc. all lifted Giants stadium off its old foundation and I drove back across the GW towards Connecticut afterwards with that stupid grin I always get after a U2 show. Nice.”

And he’s got reason for that grin – Chris got to hang out with Bono. I don’t know how he could pry his eyes off the man for this photo

Chris with Bono

Chris with Bono

You can almost touch him

Jonathan meets U2

And there’s more! Jonathan Langsam went to the show courtesy of the peak, and had a great time in the red zone right around the stage. Just goes to show that there are always great reasons to listen to some World Class Rock. Here’s a snapshot of Jonathan’s night ->

U2 finished the show on the 24th with “Moments of Surrender” which is the third cut off of “No Line”. It was a tender moment – especially those who were worried about transit on the way home. Just another reason we love New Jersey.

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