Review: “The Next Day” – David Bowie

David Bowie will never have a ‘last album.’ Sure, in terms of time and effort, there may be a few more left in his corporeal being, but he’s the kind of dude who’s entire body of even half-hearted demos can last the demanding public centuries of musical debate. And that’s the other thing: when you’ve had a career as storied, legendary, and ever-changing as his, how do you cap it all off? It’s an impossible task, and I certainly wouldn’t ask  him to.

But what to make of this J.D. Salinger-esque reclusiveness in terms of creative output, besides his many film and television cameos and the occasional word with the press? To, suddenly, release an album out into the world with barely a month’s worth of advance notice, with two music videos to appear prior to the album’s full release, and with a cover virtually irreverent to the man’s own body of work? That cover should be the stuff of debates, given the music on the record and its own presentation of a sort of in-joke, as if the input after Heroes wasn’t worth remembering, and this is exactly what was supposed to follow.

The Next Day doesn’t quite follow that blueprint, though the cover certainly influences it. You can’t say this is the return of Ziggy, or the Thin White Duke, or any other variation of Bowie you can think of. In fact, it simply is The Next Day, but what that says — either as comment on the past or a continuation of Bowie’s impressive oveur — doesn’t matter as much as media types want to have you believe. Yet, I can’t help but feel like there was a twinge of frustration with this record, a need to just release something, just to move on past the speculation about what Mr. Bowie’s been doing all this time.

After the jump, David Bowie takes us to some very familiar territories via strange routes.

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Local Beat: Katie’$ Money

On average, I do not have much of a stomach for anything close to the realm of power-pop. It’s far too conservative of a sound and approach to consider having but a few songs in your collection to think of it as ‘great’ or ‘ever-lasting.’ Regardless, when it comes to local talents, bands like Katie’$ Money, which I saw last night at Pete’s Candy Store here in Brooklyn, make terrific live shows good to take your best girl out dancing.

Well, without my best girl to go, a good friend of mine and I sat and appreciated the sheer power that Katie’$ Money brought to the tiny Pete’s stage. In your face, pleasantly aggressive, and with one hell of a rhythm section (it’s always nice to have a bassist play double-duty and be both rhythmic rock and melodic-wave for your band), Katie’$ Money put on a fantastic set of dance-able rave-ups and spit-in-the-face ballads that still blazed by.

As far as I know, their next show is next Tuesday at the National Underground (where they’ve held a Tuesday night spot this month), but check them out on Facebook for future dates. Below, is their latest single, “Dutch Expectations,” but their website has even more! Dig it!

The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” in a Major Key.

This is too cool — Major Scaled TV takes songs famously written in the minor key, and digitally alters them to be in the Major Key instead. And that’s everything — the vocals, the guitars, the keyboards. There’s only four songs posted thus far, but here’s one that should be of your interest.

“Riders on the Storm” sounds like a lovely jaunt through a light rain shower with some potentially unsavory characters.

Rock Primer: How to Start Listening to Captain Beefheart

Much like the efforts we take to write more, exercise more, drink less, spend less, work harder, take more time for ourselves and family, etc. etc., we also make resolutions at the beginning of a new year to change our cultural consumption habits as well. Maybe you’d like to visit more art museums, or read at least three historical non-fictions by the end of the year. Maybe you also want to start listening to an artist that you never really considered listening to before. Here at Electric Comic Book, we are dedicated to helping you get the most out of your musical experience, and so, we’d like to offer this short Rock Primer on how to appreciate a classic artist that can seem daunting to jump right into. Our first subject to this new feature is the notoriously intimidating Captain Beefheart.

Whether you’ve read past essays on this site on the life, times, and death of the good captain (aka Dan Van Vliet), Captain Beefheart still remains a mystifying and daunting figure for both the myths and legends behind his personal life, but also what’s actually on the records. While many of them are worthy of acclaim after years of gestating in the critical back shelf, it seems that since his death in 2010, interest in Captain Beefheart’s music has enjoyed a slight upswing as other critics (namely, Rolling Stone, who, I’ll admit, put together a good list of songs, but not albums) pointed to his ‘best stuff’ in their  eulogies — many of which pointed to his masterpiece, 1969’s Trout Mask Replica.  However, because it does remain a haunting, challenging listen — even now, and after I published last week I would sooner turn that album on at a party before White Light/White Heat — the focus of his ‘best’ is not the intention here. This primer will be a guide for those who still look upon the Captain’s work with trepidation, and need a guide on dipping your toes in first before diving in to the rest of the Beefheart legacy. And even though many of your favorite artists will be quick to cite him as an influence, and usually point to Trout Mask Replica as the starting point (indeed it was for me), there are some who are still unable to make the plunge. Mind you, among the artists who consider Beefheart an influence include (but are not limited to): Tom Waits, Jack White, Kurt Cobain, John Frusciante, Black Francis, John Cale, Little Feat, the Clash, Johnny Rotten, Beck, the Black Keys, Beck, and Matt Groening — who got the Magic Band to reunite for the year he curated All Tomorrow’s Parties. And if you like any of them, chances are you’ll find something to love about the shambling, intentionally mad, silly darkness and intentionally ‘wrong’ music of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. And for that, we don’t start with his most well-known work, but in a some safer territory.  

After the Jump: Loving One of Rock’s Most Difficult Personas. 

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Another Spin: “White Light/White Heat” by the Velvet Underground

Without any kind of expectations, without anything in my slate of things-to-do, my roommate and co-writer of a potential comedy troupe/series has fostered upon me a Very Lou Reed Kinda Christmas this year. Er. . . Hanukkah, in my case.

After scouring the record shops that he and I regularly frequent, he bought a copy of White Light/White Heat behind my back, and offered it to me on the fifth night of Hanukkah.  Indeed, it is missing from my collection, but it’s one I did not think I would so readily miss. I bought the album on CD, and short of one awkward car-ride listen and several attempts to reconcile the album’s extremely polarizing nature (both within itself and in criticism of the Velvet Underground’s avant-garde improvisation and their lyrical content), I haven’t really had the chance sit down with it and judge it for what it is: The 293rd entry on Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 list of the ‘greatest albums ever made.’ For those of you playing at home, that means that (in the immediate sense), the MC5’s Kick Out the Jams is slightly worse than White Light/White Heat, which is marginally better than Bob Dylan and the Band releasing The Basement Tapes. But hey, it’s Rolling Stone, so take what you will, with many grains of salt.

After the Jump: A good reason why everyone should try heroin at least once, okay? Okay? Here we go. 

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Bootleg: Talking Heads at Stardust Ballroom, in LA September 28, 1979

 

Every once in a while, I get on these kicks for the Talking Heads. I was never a huge fan growing up, and I still prefer the primitive-but-arty qualities of their CBGB brethren, Television. But, unfortunately, Television’s relative inaccessibility compared to Talking Heads’ innate funkiness leaves me wanting more bootlegs than I’m able to find. There’s some out there, but not as many as I would hope — nothing like The Blow-Up or Live at the Old Waldorf, but those are also official. Oh well.

Still, hearing a bootleg from that era of any of the CBGB bands is something special to behold, and this one thus far has been my favorite. Blog-friend Sarah sent it over to me this morning, and it has vastly improved my mood despite being sick.

At this show, the Talking Heads seem to be embracing a little more of the wilder aspects of ‘punk,’ sounding far more aggressive than usual, while David Byrne is deeper into his nervous stage persona. He growls through his teeth, shakes, and sweats throughout the show, while the rest of the band match his fervor with intense attack and release. There’s tension in this show, and gives me reason to enjoy Talking Heads a little bit more.

Check it out over at Aquarium Drunkard.

Celebrating Puerto Rico’s Move Toward Statehood.