Book Report: Making Records By Phil Ramone & Charles L. Granata

making-records-by-phil-ramone-and-charles-l-granataI usually start a post like this commenting on where or when I got the book I’m reading, which is, in this case, Phil Ramone’s Making Records: The Scenes Behind The Music with Charles L. Granata. Honestly? I can’t remember in this case. The book came out in 2007 and I’ve had it in my garage for a while, so maybe it came from the discount area of Barnes & Noble or…who knows? What does matter, is that I moved this to the top of the To Read pile because, well, I wanted to.

I love reading books about music like Sonic Boom or Off My Rocker because everyone who was super into music has wildly unique stories about not just the making of records, but the people they worked with. As it happens, Phil Ramone not only helped revolutionize how records were made, but also worked on records by some of the most iconic and beloved musicians in the history of music including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Elton John and plenty of others.

Continue reading Book Report: Making Records By Phil Ramone & Charles L. Granata

Casting Internets

My Pocket is overflowing with stories I want to read, so I figured I’d spend New Year’s Eve cleaning things out and creating one last Casting Internets post for the year. inspector-gadget-2

One of my all-time favorite toys, Inspector Gadget for the spotlight on Fwoosh. I had two different versions of this toy, but both broke. Wah wah.

In 1963 a kid sent a bunch of authors a questionnaire about symbolism. Most of them said it just kind of happens, which I’ve always suspected. Thanks to my wife for sending me the link and Mental Floss for posting about it.

Back in October, Clive Barker wrote a piece for THR about the time he gave up on watching horror movies because the experience was just too intense.

This one’s also from October, but I loved reading Fred Armisen talk to Esquire about filming the above video with the Clash.

I heard about all the craziness that went down with the Kim’s Video VHS and DVD collection after the store closed on an episode of Killer POV, but reading the actual Village Voice story from 2012 is long yet fascinating.

Joe Dante’s using FundAnything to help make his next movie Burying The Ex starring Anton Yelchin and Ashley Greene. I don’t have any extra money, but I hope this one gets made. (via Deadline)third man paramount set vol 1

Jack White’s The Rise And Fall Of Paramount Records Volume 1 vinyl set is insane. Just look at it and if you have an extra $400 buy it from Third Man Records.

Esquire celebrated Nirvana Week back in October by talking to Rob Sheffield about the band’s lasting legacy. The Kurt Cobain/Taylor Swift comparison therein is pretty right-on.

According to Rolling Stone, there’s a never released Johnny Cash record from 1980 coming out called Out Among The Stars coming out on March 25. This seems like pretty good news to me.

Here’s something I never thought I’d write, but this Joe Jonas piece on Vulture is pretty intriguing.

And finally, enjoy 9 minutes of rad action movie lines. (via The Mary Sue)

My Favorite New Records Of 2013

Well, this list turned out to be easier than I expected. The way I compile these things every year is I go into my iTunes and organize the tracks by release year and then narrow down which albums deserve a spot on the list. 2013 was an interesting year because I not only cut back on my album purchases — almost all of which are done via Amazon’s MP3 site these days — but also apparently didn’t go for much in the way of new music because I only bought two records that came out in the 2013 calendar year! And, as it happens, I like them both very much. So, without further ado, here are both of my favorite records from 2013.

Volume 3 by She & Him (2013)

I feel like something of a broken record, but I’ve been a fan of Zooey Deschanel since I first saw her in Elf. Several years later she and M. Ward started a group called She & Him. I was sold already because a major reason I like Elf so much is because of her singing voice. Since then they’ve release two more regular records and a Christmas album, which is one of a dozen such records I praised last year. In fact, She & Him Volume 2 made my list of favorite new records of 2010-, so it’s not much of a surprise that their next effort not only made its way into my collection but onto my list.

I didn’t go back and listen to the other records, but after giving this one a more recent listen, I want to say 3 might be my favorite She & Him offering. Deschanel doesn’t seem to be singing as many songs that don’t do her voice any favors and M. Ward is in there creating tracks that feel like what they are: updated girl group numbers. I especially like when he gets kind of twangy and noodley on tracks like “I Could Have Been Your Girl.”

These are just fun, nice, breezy pop songs about all the best pop song subjects: love, unrequited love and lost love. If you’re looking for a mellow record to relax with, I think She & Him Volume 3 is a pretty great option. But, it’s not like this record is all fluff. I actually really got into the heart of “Together” and a few other tracks that have themes I can easily tap into.

This album does something I kind of love, it reminds me of a party. You know how parties kick off loud and great with everyone having fun, hit a crescendo at some point and then end with a few tired/drunk people sitting around talking quietly? I like when albums share that similar progression. You’ve got a lot of the peppier pop songs in the beginning and then end with slower, even more mellow tracks like “Shadow Of Love” that I can easily imagine playing in the background of a clean-up scene at the end of a party movie.

Save Rock And Roll by Fall Out Boy (2013)

My other favorite record of 2013 is another one that’s not much of a surprise. I’ve expressed my love of Fall Out Boy’s rock sensibilities before, so I was all over the idea of a new record from them after their hiatus (no one really believed they broke up, right?). Save Rock And Roll might have a pretty brazen title, but there is a bit of truth to it. I don’t want to be that guy, but as a very casual observer of pop music, I’m not seeing a lot of bands actually getting their music out between all the pop and hip hop tracks. And yet you’ve got FOB whose “The Phoenix” is already an instant sports stadium and commercial hit. How can you not get pumped up to this song? Between that and “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” they’ve got two of the most prevalent guitar-based tracks I can remember in a while which is fantastic because I also happen to dig them both.

Also, I’m a huge sucker for songs about staying young and awesome like “Alone Together,” which clearly means there’s still a pretty large portion of my psyche that’s stuck in my more carefree days. But, hey, why not? Those days were a lot of fun and I like songs that remind me of them. I could easily go through track by track and talk about how I couldn’t stop stomping my foot while listening or how I love dancing around with the kiddo to this record, but I won’t (anymore than I already have, I guess).

Unlike the other records, this one actually features a number of guest appearances from Foxes, Big Sean, Courtney Love and Elton John. I don’t really know Foxes or Big Sean, but I thought they both worked well into “Just One Yesterday” and “The Mighty Fall” respectively. And, guys, Elton John and Fall Out Boy! It sounds crazy on paper but makes a lot of sense resulting in a pretty great title track.

My biggest problem with the record is that I really hate Courtney Love. I was far from excited when I heard she was on the record and while she’s as awful as always, she doesn’t really have much to do in “Rat A Tat” aside from some strange newscaster-esque rants and one bit towards the end that try to ruin the song, but don’t. I can’t tell you how glad I am that she’s not in the mix when it comes to that awesome chorus.

After a four year hiatus, I think FOB came out swinging with a collection of songs that stand up there with a lot of my favorites. Keep it up fellas! Aging dudes like myself still need music to rock out to and I hear the kids dig you too, so that’s good. While writing about Save, I was reading the Wiki page and realized I hadn’t picked up the short EP they did with Ryan Adams called PAX AM Days. I had some extra iTunes gift card scratch and picked it up, but haven’t actually listened to it yet, so maybe it’ll make next  year’s list!

Casting Internets

Every morning I go through my RSS feeds for my day job. My main goal is to figure out what will make for good stories over on Spinoff, but I also keep an eye on toy news and look for fun stories to read later. I have a ridiculous backlog right now that I’m slowly going through, so you’ll see a few older interviews and news bites here, but I’m still jazzed about them.raid-2_42098472

The Raid 2 is getting a US release! We don’t know when yet, but that’s awesome! (via Variety)

how i met your mother season 9

TVLine put together a list of 15 questions they’d like to see How I Met Your Mother answer before ending this year. I agree with about 10 of them, but still a fun rundown.

I’m a big fan of the Ramones anthology that Rhino put out several years back, but I’ve got to say, this box set that Rolling Stone talks about bringing their first six records into one package for under $40 is awfully appealing.

I’m a big fan of the National Treasure movies, so when I read this brief interview on Collider with director Jon Turteltaub about one filming in the next few years, I got pretty stoked.led zeppelin

New Led Zeppelin tracks? That’s not enough for me to re-buy all the records, but I’m definitely intrigued by this Rolling Stone story about songs with John Paul Jones vocals.duplassbros-group

I’ve become a big fan of the Duplass Bros. in the past few years, so I enjoyed this interview with them about what they’re up to these days over on Variety.

It would have been pretty cool to be at that small, career-spanning Blink-182 concert they talked about in this Rolling Stone interview.bootlegsupes1

I’ve always enjoyed reading about wacky bootleg action figures like the one I found above. The Fwoosh contributor TheManInTheAntHill did a pretty great one recently that’s worth a look.

Dave Grohl opened up to Rolling Stone about the waning days of Nirvana. I’m alway up for a Nirvana interview, you guys.Halloween blu-ray

Halloween is one of those movies where you’re never quite sure which version to buy, so I’m glad that HMAD got around to not only reviewing the latest offering, but saying that it’s the one to buy. Much appreciated!mister-rogers

Little Ms. Sunshine was a really emotionally honest film, so I think it’s directors are great choices to make a Mister Rogers biopic. (via TheWrap)

I discovered this old Mental Floss article about the 10 coolest Disney park attractions that never got made while doing some research for a story. Fun stuff!foreverly

Whoa, Rolling Stone is reporting that Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day have joined forces to cover an Everly Brothers record. It’s called Foreverly and I’m incredibly intrigued.beach party

The CW sounds like the perfect place to set a drama revolving around California’s emerging surf scene in the 60s. Scheduling conflicts aside, I’m…on board. (via Deadline)

The Music Box: And The Thieves Are Gone By Joseph Arthur (2004)

joseph arthur and the thieves are gone Picking one disc out of a box and giving it an uninformed listen!

This week’s Music Box selection is a record called And The Thieves Are Gone by Joseph Arthur. I knew absolutely nothing about Arthur going into this listen, so I had zero artist-specific preconceived notions aside from an inkling that it might be a little weird based on the cover and booklet art.

And “weird” is a pretty good way to describe this record. Arthur seems to enjoy taking a fairly basic track or song and layering all kinds of extra sounds, textures and sonic craziness on top of them while also singing along in a kind of gravely voice that feels a little more put-on than it needs to be.

From the drone-y, mantra-like “Papa” which kicks off the EP to the the album ender “Glass Pipe,” Arthur explores a lot of strange worlds that will either land with you or not. There wasn’t much for me to grab onto with “Papa,” but I enjoyed the more beat-oriented “Savior Of The Sun” and “Anywhere With You” even though he sounds a bit toasted and off timing-wise. There’s even some great twangy guitar on “My Home Is Your Head.” In fact, there’s a lot of goodness on this record, but then there’s almost always something that comes along to throw me off. Sometimes its the affected-sounding vocals, sometimes it’s a high pitched guitar wail that makes the lizard part of my brain cringe, sometimes it’s a strange sound effect that adds one too many ingredients in the soup and throws the whole thing off for my taste.

After listening to all six tracks, I looked Arthur up on Wikipedia and learned that not only has been been doing this music thing for quite awhile, but he’s known for creating sonic landscapes and layering tracks. I also read that this EP is actually a group of outtakes and extra tracks from Our Shadows Will Remain, which was released earlier the same year. I can’t compare the EP to the full record because I haven’t heard it, but I have noticed as a longtime music listener that there are usually reasons songs don’t make it on albums the first time around. Are there any Joseph Arthur fans out there reading this? How do these six tracks compare to the actual album?

At the end of the day, I think And The Thieves Are Gone just isn’t my bag. Arthur’s clearly an artist with his own point of view and I respect him for that, but this disc didn’t make me want to dive into his discography. It’s not bad, but it does hit a few of my buttons on the irritation elevator. However, if you dig slightly fuzzy vocals and a lot of tracks and sounds layered on top of one another, then this might be the record for you.

My 12 Favorite New-To-Me Records Of 2012

It’s impossible to keep up on every record ever made, but I do my best. This is a pretty eclectic mix of missed out classic rock, folk revival, stripped-down rock, dirty blues, weirdness and pure, unadulterated funk. It’s a fun mix. pogues if i should fall from grace with godI freely admit that I actually discovered The Pogues by way of a cover of their classic downtrodden Christmas carol “Fairytale of New York” and the use of “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” in a car commercial. I am not proud of these facts — well, mostly the latter one — but that’s how it is. I’m mostly disappointed that it took me so long to discover this band and this record which is filled with the kind of Irish punch rock folk spirit still alive in bands like The Dropkick Murphys and Mumford and Sons. It’s like finding an integral piece of history that also happens to rock my face off. thin lizzy jailbreakSpeaking of face-rocking, I picked up Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak this year. It’s the first of their records I’ve ever actually owned, but I used to listen to my dad’s copy of their greatest hits record. This record of course contains “Jailbreak” but also “The Boys Are Back In Town.” It gets a little slower in the middle than I expected, but those songs are still well crafted and solid, I just wish this was wall to wall block rocking beats. zuzu's petals music of your lifeAs part of my only completed Ambitious Reading List, I read Laurie Lindeen Petal Pusher about her time in a band I’d never heard of called Zuzu’s Petals. After finishing the book, I was super interested in listening to her music as well as her husband Paul Westerberg’s first band The Replacements. So, I hopped on Second Spin and found four records that I wound up really enjoying. Zuzu’s Petals only recorded two records, Music Of Your Life and When No One’s Looking, and while the first one is definitely better, I found the mixture of honesty, pop and rock to be incredibly appealing. Plus, it’s cool to have some legit lady rock for Lu to listen to when/if she’s interested. the replacements let it beI felt the same way about The Replacements’ Pleased To Meet Me and Let It Be. I know very little about pre-grunge 90s rock and roll and honestly assumed it was all kind of in that same downer vein. And while many of the subjects that The Replacements wrote about are similar to songs by bands like Nirvana, there’s a more positive feeling behind them. Listenting to these records was kind of like discovering an alternate universe and wondering what music would have been like if these bands blew up all over the world. gary clark jr self titledI’ve been hearing a lot about Gary Clark Jr. lately. He’s been featured by some news outlets I keep an eye on and also had a stellar performance at the 2010 Crossroads Music Festival which I watched on Netflix Instant. I was happy to see his self titled EP on sale on Amazon and gave it a download. Clark’s the real deal when it comes to down and dirty rocking blues, something most people have probably heard here and there with the track “Bright Lights.” He’s definitely one whose records I want to explore more deeply. flaming lips yoshimi battles the pink robotsIt’s funny how we develop preconceived notions about bands with minimal exposure to their actual music. I had developed one about the Flaming Lips that they were just a bunch of weirdos making weird music. And, you know what, they are and that’s okay. I like weird and I’ve liked weird for a long time, so why didn’t I give them a shot earlier? No idea. Wayne Coyne was on an episode of WT with Marc Maron that reminded me that I knew very little about that band, so when Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots popped up on Amazon for $5, I gave it a whirl. I haven’t listened to it a ton, but when I did it was kind of a full experience. I’d like to sit in a dark room and just listen to this record, or maybe write to it. It creates a really dense atmosphere that I want to wade into. Stretchin' Out In Bootsy's Rubber BandSometimes you just need to funk it up. My experience with Parliament records has not been the best. Sometimes those long, winding intros and funkadelic jams just get a little tedious. But, I did not have that same experience when listening to Parliament bass player Bootsy Collins (and bass hero of mine) on his solo record Stretchin’ Out In Bootsy’s Rubber Band. Wall to wall funk, the tracks are long, but always interesting. You WILL dance to this record.Avett Brothers EmotionalismMy buddy Jesse Thompson has turned me on to some of my favorite records in past years, most memorably Stephen Kellogg. We’ve talked quite a bit about The Avett Brothers, one of his favorite bands, so when I saw them on the cheap, I had to give it a listen. Emotionalism is actually the perfect title to this record which digs in like a less Irish, but still folky Mumford and Sons and doesn’t let go until all the tracks have said what they have to. hanni el khatib will the guns come outI don’t remember how I heard about Hanni El Khatib or why I downloaded his record Will The Guns Come Out, but I’m glad I did. This record is definitely in the same vein as Jack White’s music, but with maybe a bit more stripped down/punk rock vibe to it. I dig it. Sleater-Kinney Dig Me OutSleater-Kinney and Wild Flag are two more bands that I started listening to because of a podcast. Well, a podcast and a TV show. Carrie Brownstein is on Portlandia, a show I quite enjoyed the first season of (season two just hit Netflix Instant!). I also liked her interview with Marc Maron on WTF and decided to check out her first band Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out and her current group Wild Flag’s self titled album. I intended to do a Supergroup Showcase on Wild Flag, maybe this will be my incentive. Anyway, I like rock and roll and powerful women, so this combination of the two is aces in my book. There’s a certain chord that Brownstein hits with her vocals that lingers in my chest. I can’t explain it, but I like it. Dead Weather Sea of CowardsAs I wrote about, I got really into Jack White and his bands The White Stripes and The Raconteurs a few years back. I still haven’t gotten his solo record Blunderbuss, but I did pick up The Dead Weather’s Sea of Cowards. Jack’s really good at showcase individuality in his bands while still keeping things cohesive. The cool thing about White’s music is that they all feel like part of one big narrative or theme. It’s kind of like reading Grant Morrison’s DC comics. They’re all kind of weird and look different, but they’re all connected by pieces of what came before. In this case, that’s literally White’s voice, but also the kind of raw style he evokes from those around him. Black Lips Arabia MountainI discovered The Black Lips by way of their track “O Katrina” on the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack which still gets regular play in my car (I still rock the CD visor holder in my ride). I loved the song’s surf rock vibe, a kind of music that seems somehow imprinted on my soul. Since then I’ve kept my eyes peeled for one of their records on the cheap and came across their most recent Arabia Mountain. I can’t compare it to their previous works, but I really dig the old school feel that mixes everything from 50s/60s surf pop and New York punk rock. This is good music to get things done to.

I picked up a lot more albums than these ones, but this dozen really made its way into my brain. Some I just haven’t given enough listens to to give a solid review of, but I’d put my seal of approval on these bands and records without batting an eye.