By David Goe
Friday, December 13, 2013
Cryptozoologists think that some animals, widely considered to be mythological in nature, live and breathe and roam the earth just like you and me.
These pseudo-scientists scour the natural world for indisputable proof that Bigfoot, dinosaurs and lake monsters not only exist, but thrive.
Yeah, it’s ridiculous, yet their optimism is quite charming.
By its name, the Arctic Monkeys sound like cryptids on par with the Appalachian Black Panther and Jersey Devil. The Arctic Monkeys are, in fact, a band, specifically a wildly popular band (think U2 or Radiohead levels of fanfare) on the European side of the Atlantic with a string of No. 1 albums and sold out stadium tours. You know, the stuff of rock lore.
Stateside however, it’s been a different story. This quartet’s been nothing more than a niche indie band with rumored greatness and a name too silly to be believed.
Until very recently, the Arctic Monkeys only left us Yanks with anecdotal evidence regarding its overall mastery. I’d tell anyone who would listen about my early sightings of the group, but when asked for hard proof of its excellence I could only present unconvincing blurry cellphone footage.
But this perception of a band on the fringe is changing quickly with its latest album, “AM,” and the unlikely crossover hit single “Do I Wanna Know?”
From appearing on Bacardi Rum ads to charting on a number of “Best Of 2013” lists, “AM” has proven to be the gateway to America that has eluded the band for years. That’s saying something, too.
Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” is the fastest selling debut British album of all time and a stone cold modern classic. The next three albums weren’t too shabby, either.
Making the transition from indie famous to mainstream famous is all due to one 3-minute, 24-second track, the decidedly riff-heavy monster “R U Mine.” With falsetto harmonies and pure white-boy funk, that tune is at this point the best song the band has ever written (at this point).
While “Do I Wanna Know?” gets the radio spins, “R U Mine” is the song that inspired “AM” and set the band’s rise to prominence in motion.
In the single shot, black and white video for “R U Mine,” you see a band consciously remaking its entire image. Prior to “R U Mine,” the band’s music consisted of hook-less rock songs about chip shops and pub scraps. Gone are the shaggy haircuts and track jackets. It’s now tapered haircuts, black motorcycle boots and leather, lots of black leather.
The band’s new sound was much more in line with contemporary R&B and features big, recognizable choruses and sexy smooth grooves.
Since permanently relocating from England to Los Angeles, the influence of car and motorcycle culture is all over the band’s new material. The new album was written with the goal of sounding great while cruising down the palm tree-lined streets of L.A.
“I want (‘AM’) to sound good in the car, the way 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ does,” said Alex Turner, the band’s lead singer and primary songwriter, in an interview with London’s “Guardian” newspaper.
Turner wanted to write songs so good you couldn’t skip them when they came on the radio, a la “In Da Club.”
Admittedly, I am a biased judge of this band, because to me it is perfect. Every album, every song is a gem. “AM,” however, is undeniable proof of a band operating at the highest level of confidence.
If “Do I Wanna Know?” is the gateway, wait until “R U Mine,” “Arabella” or “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” get their claws in you.
The Arctic Monkeys are on the verge of superstardom in the States, something that until recently, I thought truly improbable.
With “AM” the band proves that in the end, good music wills out, and sometimes the ridiculous can indeed become reality.
By David Goe
Thursday, December 12, 2013
In preparation of tomorrow's article about the Arctic Monkeys improbably rise to superstardom I've created the ultimate playlist. Many people are just discovering the band thanks to their excellent album "AM." Here to get you caught up on all things Arctic Monkeys (they've been quite busy over the last 7 years) is their top 50 tunes, ranked.
One to 50, the following songs were ranked by me with help from fellow fanatics Alex Maenchen and Michael Goe. Each song was ranked according to lyric content, catchiness, musicality, and its importance to the band's growth. The list is fairly comprehensive but does not contain two keys songs, the bands cover of The Beatles "Come Together" and their cover of Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home." Those songs were omitted simply because they were not available on Spotify.
By David Goe
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I've asked several people deeply involved in the local music scene to recap their favorite local shows of the year. The third entry in this series comes from Cash Kiser, Events and Outreach Coordinator at KAFM Community Radio. As always, I want to hear from you. Send your top five favorite local shows of the year to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll incorporate it into the final entry later this month.
1. Zombie Prom featuring Chamber Bot, DJ Strangefellow, Dusty Thunders, Dee Jay Es Jay - 10/25/13
2. Jim Breuer - 10/27/13
3. La Armada - 5/2/13
4. Bad Weather California - 6/14/13
5. Deerpeople and Dreamboat - 6/24/13
6. We Speak Imaginese - 11/15/13
By David Goe
Saturday, December 7, 2013
I've asked several people deeply involved in the local music scene to recap their favorite local shows of the year. The second entry in this series comes from Eric Psikotyk Smith, booking manager at the Mesa Theater and Club. As always, I want to hear from you. Send your top five favorite local shows of the year to email@example.com and I'll incorporate it into the final entry later this month.
1. Rock Jam - 8/23/13, 8/24/13
Rock Jam was actually a good lineup this year. Not really into the corporate quagmire that is "The Jams", but the music spoke for itself.
2. Sage Francis - 4/19/13
Not saying this because I was involved, but because it was the first time in a long while an indie hip-hop artist of that level of acclaim stopped here, and it opened the doors to so many others.
3. Asking Alexandria - 11/19/13
Sold out show before the doors opened. That never happens here, it seems. Truly enjoyed seeing that big of a show, with no problems or issues to speak of the whole time.
4. Jared Paul - 2/19/13
Paul played at Seeds of Revolution and there was almost no one there. It was such a small and intimate setting, but the spoken word phenom came out after a huge personal loss and he poured his guts out for those that were there.
5. The Freaker's Balls / Colorado West Pride Shows
For the first time that I can recall, people came out to events that even a couple of years ago were taboo, or might get them "labeled". And everyone had fun. From alternative lifestyle to being comfortable as a homosexual in our community, I think this year truly stood up and let everyone know that we aren't just a redneck town anymore.
These weren't in any particular order, mind you. And I realize that last one is kind of cheating. But there's my two cents.
By David Goe
Saturday, December 7, 2013
For my final radio show of the year I brought in perhaps the only person in town who listens to more new music than I do, Trevor Adams. Together we created the ultimate, best music of 2013 playlist and provided our own commentary for each selection. If you missed the show last night, don't worry. We've recreated the entire playlist (minus Atoms For Peace "Before Your Very Eyes" and American Culture's "Princess Music") in one Spotify playlist.
You'll notice quite quickly that our selections cover all genres of music but feature many young and up-and-coming British groups, primarily Disclosure, Savages, Chrvches, and AlunaGeorge. Traditional music powers are also well represented in our list. Nine Inch Nails, Thom Yorke (Atoms for Peace), and most notably Paul McCartney all made the cut. It's truely amazing to think that McCartney, someone who has been the face of pop music since the 1960s, is still making music that as relavent and enjoyable as ever.
Check out the playlist below and feel free to weigh in with your own favorite songs and albums of 2013.