By David Goe
Friday, October 31, 2014
Note: Watch all six parts of the Flaming Lips talking about this album here.
Have you ever eaten a sloppy fast food hamburger after tasting a deliciously constructed burger from, say, Bin 707? Ever choked down a chemically modified, tasteless beef patty that vaguely resembles the fresh and flavorful bite your body is actually craving? Stuffed your gullet with something only resembling in shape the mouth-watering perfection ingrained in your memory?
That fast food burger is akin to the latest cover album by psychedelic heroes the Flaming Lips.
“With A Little Help From My Fwends” is a track-for-track tribute to the Beatles masterpiece and unanimously beloved 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Unfortunately, while “Fwends” does enough to entice a bite, it comes nowhere close to complete satisfaction like the delightful original.
“Fwends” is an ambitious effort, much like the original, and that’s where the similarities end.
Featuring nearly 30 guest performers like Tegan & Sera, My Morning Jacket, J. Mascis, and Dr. Dog, the album’s scale is massive. With so many guest performers jammed into only 13 tracks though, things get pretty hectic right out of the gate.
From its opening synths and wobbly pitched vocals on the iconic title track, it’s pretty clear your time would be better spent listening to the original album. Outside of a few well done covers (“She’s Leaving Home” featuring Phantogram, for example) and some nice use of modern technology to add new wandering depths to “Fixing A Hole” and “Within You Without You,” there’s not a lot to get excited about.
The fun and unpredictability the Beatles gave us on the original “Sgt. Pepper’s” is ruined by a messy composition at the hands of what sounds like schizophrenic drug addicts. (At least when the Beatles took drugs they made hit records.)
The Beatles songs you know and love are there somewhere, but their memorable melodies are buried so deep beneath annoying fuzz and laser rolls that the majority are almost unrecognizable. I suppose that’s the point, to try and create something unique and different than a note-for-note cover, but with source material so ubiquitous it’s nearly impossible to achieve.
Every added note on “Fwends” seems unnecessary, and it’s absolutely unbelievable that the album’s only saving grace is Miley Cyrus. Yes. That Miley Cyrus.
Her guest vocal on “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds,” and particularly on Paul McCartney’s middle contribution to “A Day In the Life,” are far and away the album’s best moments.
The Flaming Lips have proven up to the task of remaking landmark albums before. Their take on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was well done and much more interesting.
Maybe this time the original album is just too good to mess with, or maybe the Flaming Lips have finally run out of good ideas. It certainly doesn’t help that the band only truly appears on a handful of songs and left the remainder of the album to be completed without their direct supervision.
The Flaming Lips, while not a bad band in their own right, are just another in a long line of musicians who have tried to stand toe-to-toe with the Beatles and failed. Their version of “Sgt. Pepper’s” is nowhere near as corny as Peter Frampton and Barry Gibb’s version, but it’s amazing to think this tribute album isn’t even as trippy and weird as the 1967 original.
The genius of the original comes from the Beatles recording magic. They used the recording studio as another instrument through overdubbing, sampling, reverse playback, multi-tracking, and signal processing. Using all the tricks the Beatles and George Martin became famous for, they created something that sounded like nothing ever before.
If anything, “Fwends” proves that almost 50 years later, bands are still trying to catch up to the Beatles’ brilliance. And while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, sometimes it sits in your gut like a brick with regret.
By David Goe
Friday, October 24, 2014
It's once again time for KAFM Community Radio's biggest and baddest event, Zombie Prom. This year's Zombie Prom promises to be another massive hit. With nine DJs playing over two stages, Fix Your Face Radio providing lighting and visuals, a costume contest, and a prom photo booth the Mesa Theater and Club will be packed with walking dead. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
Zombie Prom starts at 8 p.m., tomorrow, Saturday October 25, and is an 18 and up event.
Here is the DJ lineup:
8 p.m. DJ Sobearman
9:30 p.m. DJ Toby Danger
11 p.m. Bullnasty
Midnight DJ Es-Jay
8 p.m. Selector Trev
9 p.m. Denim Party
10:30 p.m. COSTUME CONTEST
11 p.m. Daytona
11:45 p.m. Dusty Thunders
By David Goe
Friday, October 17, 2014
All you really need to know about music and technology can be learned from The Buggles late 1970s hit “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Often remembered as the first video to be played on MTV, “Video Killed the Radio Star” demonstrated an important lesson that still holds true today. As technology improves and simplifies, it changes the way people interact with the world, music included.
There’s no need to dissect the lyrics of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” they are right there in the title. Video kills audio. Video is more exciting, more engaging and offers artists an even bolder creative avenue.
Thirty-five years after the single release, that same basic sentiment remains, only the emphasis has shifted online. Music videos no longer have a place on television, but they feature proximately on sites such as Vevo and YouTube.
Today, that is where bands are breaking, where the music conversation is had. It’s online on YouTube comment boards.
With that in mind, KAFM Community Radio is doing something radical this weekend. It’s throwing a Radio Room live recording party with the goal of capturing video and audio for several local bands. This content then will be handed over to the bands to post online for their own promotion.
Local bands Tight Thump, We Speak Imaginese, The Conifer, Dirtylektric and Lloyd Hutchinson will all perform Saturday night, Oct. 18, and all will leave with a finished product ready to upload and share with the online masses.
Dreamed up by KAFM Events and Community Outreach Coordinator Cash Kiser, this event provides a few lucky bands access to high quality video content that most likely would be unavailable to them. Despite technological advances, high quality video remains a luxury and is certainly out of the realm of possibility for most local bands.
The cost for the cameras, microphones and software is substantial, and that doesn’t include the knowledge to be able to operate all that gear. Luckily for KAFM and the bands performing Saturday night, Kiser knows his way around a camera.
As a local professional photographer and former film school student, Kiser is more than up for the challenge. The service he’s providing is an absolute necessity for bands now.
The Internet is flooded with DIY music, which in itself isn’t such a bad thing, but it makes it difficult for independent and emerging artists to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Capturing decent audio now can be done on just about any laptop or smartphone. The technology has gotten so good that virtually anyone can load their material online, muddying the airwaves so to speak.
Audio is no longer enough, but quality video can provide a band the boost it needs to be seen and heard.
Music videos have the power to launch a band from obscurity to the mainstream (The White Stripes’ LEGO video for “Fell In Love With A Girl”), define a decade (a-Ha’s “Take On Me”), or even become a cultural event (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”).
The band OK Go only exists because it mastered the art of viral marketing (see “Here It Goes Again” and “This Too Shall Pass”).
It’s a catch-22 for millennial musicians: a unaffordable necessity for inherently broke performers.
The local bands performing Saturday night will probably not leave with a “Thriller” quality video but they’ll at least have something that gets them on the playing field.
Kiser and KAFM are heading into unknown territory, but I like the direction. It serves the bands well and enforces the radio stations commitment and support to the local arts community.
By David Goe
Friday, October 17, 2014
The self proclaimed "Kenny Powers of music," In the Whale is a Colorado based band you need to know. Playing tomorrow night (10/18) with Guttermouth at the Mesa Theater and Club, In the Whale is a no-nonsense, two-piece rock band from Denver. Guitarist and vocalist Nate Valdez and drummer Eric Riley have been together since 2011, making balls to the wall music that's got the eastern slope of Colorado all riled up.
Thanks in large part to their sweaty, shout along live sets, In the Whale have featured prominently at the Underground Music Showcase and the Westword Music Showcase. Listening to their music it's easy to see why they've grown in popularity. Taking cues from bands like the White Stripes and Queens of the Stoneage, In the Whale plays in your face, nose bleed inducing rock and roll.
Check out their music above or better yet, see them live tomorrow night.