Tag Archives: Thom Yorke

Attack of the Supergroups!

While actress Milla Jovovich may be trying to draw in your attention with talk of extraterrestrial owls and an imminent fear of the fourth kind, there’s a phenomenon that has been slowly gaining momentum in the music world….

Bands and musicians have been switching members and pairing up like Xenon Octa-Flouride (XeF8) would, if it ever is going to be invented (thanks Wikipedia!). In layman’s terms, we’ve been getting a lot of new supergroups, side projects, and collaborations – some that could have been foreseen, and others that seem to have appeared out of nowhere.

The Almanac Singers... singing

The Almanac Singers seen here with Bess Hawes, Arthur Stern and Sis Cunningham

Now, the idea of a supergroup is not a recent innovation by any stretch of the imagination – the supergroup goes all the way back to the Almanac Singers – a combination of Millard Lampell, Lee Hayes, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie that got its start in 1940. From the 60’s until today, we have been given plenty more supergroups, such as in 1969 which brought us both The Plastic Ono Band (which included the likes of Eric Clapton, both George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Alan White – just to name a few) as well as Blind Faith (which also featured Mr. Clapton, but had Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech to boot). 1988 brought us the Traveling Wilburys, which was the tour de force of George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. And although they Wilburys only stuck together for about a year after Orbison’s death, that cosmic aligning is something that has not met it’s match… yet.

monsters-of-folk

The Monsters of Folk

Among the recent crop of supergroups is a group I mentioned last week – The Monsters of Folk, which consists of folk songsters Connor Oberst and  Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, M. Ward of She & Him, and Jim James from My Morning Jacket. They’ve been associated under the Monsters name since 2004, but have all been so busy with their respective main attractions that they weren’t able to release their self-titled first album until this year. You’ve definitely heard their track “Say Please” on the Peak – and both M. Ward and Connor Oberst gave free concerts in NYC this summer!

Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar

Moving down the line from most folky to least, next up is the recent pairing of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard with Jay Farrar, member of Uncle Tupelo and frontman for Son Volt, the two bands that he played with throughout the 90’s before he launched his solo career in 2001. Gibbard and Farrar first got together in 2007 to record the soundtrack for One Fast Move and I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur. Both the movie and the album came out on October 20th, the day before the 40th anniversary of the prolific author’s death. You can see the music video for “San Fransisco”, the last track on the album, here. And you can expect to see more from them in the future.

Taking a detour into the realm of electronica, at the end of September, Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, slipped this little surprise into his blog:

hi
in the past couple of weeks i’ve been getting a band together for fun to play the eraser stuff live and the new songs etc.. to see if it could work!
here’s a photo.. its me, joey waronker, mauro refosco, flea and nigel godrich.
at the beginning of october the 4th and 5th we are going to do a couple of shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.
we don’t really have a name and the set will not be very long cuz ..well …we haven’t got that much material yet!
Thom Yorke and Flea at the Oprheum show on Oct. 5

Thom Yorke and Flea

Of course, those shows were sold out in 20 minutes. Flea, as you know, is the Red Hot Chili Peppers Bassist – and he seemed to be ecstatic to be on stage with Yorke, playing cuts from Yorke’s solo album The Eraser (2006). There hasn’t been a follow-up to the October concerts, but that’s something you should keep an eye out for as well.

Jack White and Alison Mosshart sharing the mike at Glastonbury this year

Next up come two really driving groups. First is The Dead Weather, whose song “Hang You Up From the Heavens” I featured in my first week of blog-writing. The Dead Weather was formed by Jack White who’s been extremely active – leaping from the White Stripes, to the Raconteurs, to the recent release of “It Might Get Loud” – a documentary featuring White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page. The band also features Alison Mosshart of the Kills on lead vocals, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence, who played with White in the Raconteurs. And to sweeten the deal, they just announced a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on November 17th! Tickets for that are going on Sale this friday, so get ’em quick.

them-crooked-vultures

The "Them Crooked Vultures" teaser photo from earlier this fall

And finally, we come to Them Crooked Vultures, or TCV as they call themselves. TCV is big news. On drums is Dave Grohl, from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. On vocals and guitar is Josh Homme, from the Queens of the Stone Age. The kicker is that John Paul Jones comes soaring in on bass. They’ve got a really great sound, full and rocking, but what remains to be seen is whether TCV will be able to stay afloat once their star power has worn off. Their self-titled first record is due out on Sony in a week, which should be an insta-grab for all hard rock fans. But for now, check out the full album on the band’s website!

So, I apologize about all the name dropping – it’s not something I routinely do. If you think a supergroup has been left out, please let me know. Or if you feel the need to justify the Tinted Windows‘ existence, by all means, please try. But if you do, I’ll kindly remind you that their lead singer is from Hanson, and we’ll go our separate ways. Wikipedia to the rescue once again!

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Peak Keyword: MMBOP

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Where in the World is David Byrne? [Part 2]

In the last post, I said that Byrne has a way of incorporating the world around him into his own work. And he doesn’t do it small, quiet ways. Take for examples his Playing the Building series which started in Stockholm, Sweden in 2005. Byrne describes the series as follows:

"Playing the Building" at the Roundhouse in London

"Playing the Building" at the Roundhouse in London

“Playing the Building is a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.”

Musical may not be the best word to base your expectations off of but it is very large. In 2008 Byrne re-envisioned the installation a the Battery Maritime Building in New York City, and he has just put the finishing touches on the installation at the Roundhouse in London (see above).

These installations produce some fantastic sounds. For example, listen to Robert Gomez’s haunting “Hunting Song” which uses samples taken from the installation in New York.

David Byrne and company on office chairs

David Byrne and company on office chairs

In the meantime David Byrne is finding new ways to occupy his minimal free time between shuttling back and forth across the pond to work on Playing the Building while touring for his new album Everything That Happens Happens Today, which includes dances choreographed on office chairs.

He has also been heavily involved in the developing indie music scene. His record label Luaka Bop signed Os Mutantes in 2006, a band that was originally formed in 1966, but shut down after 12 years and has now found new legs [download their latest single “Teclar” here].

He has also collaborated recently with The Brighton Port Authority (BPA), Fatboy Slim’s side project that just released their first album I Think We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat (2008). Byrne sings on the song “Toe Jam” also featuring Dizzee Rascal, which is definitely a heavenly pairing. The video for the song, which you can find in the “This Week” section has plenty of nudity – but it’s still kid-friendly due to jolly black bars that dance around the screen with the music. Check it out!

A still from the "Toe Jam" video

A still from the "Toe Jam" video

And, perhaps most surprisingly, David Byrne has lent his voice to North America South America (better known as N.A.S.A.) for two songs, “Money” and “The People Tree” for their record The Spirit of Apollo which was released in February of this year. With these songs, it seems that N.A.S.A. has brought out Byrne’s subversive nature once again – something that can be better explained by watching the music videos found in the “This Week” page.

"Bicycle Diaries" by David Byrne

"Bicycle Diaries" by David Byrne

David Byrne is looking as fit as ever and he’s not slowing down. He  just released a book called Bicycle Diaries that chronicles his travels and thoughts while biking and designed a series of funky bike racks for NYC. He also had a full-length article in Wired magazine last year about the ins and outs of the music industry. It’s really fascinating and has lots of interesting clips of Byrne talking with people from the industry including Brian Eno. While you’re there, look for his interview with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke from the same issue. And if you have the desire to stalk him even more like a psycho killer you can follow his day-to-day activities in his online journal. Happy hunting!

Oh, and one last thing:

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