Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special George Constanza "It's Not You It's Me" Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental groinal maintenance engineer Fah Lo Suee and I will be off to Paris, France where we'll be attending the annual "Hideously Goofy Eye Wear" tradeshow along with Bono of U2. He never misses it!

So posting by moi will more than likely be sporadic for a little while.

But in the meantime, here's another little project for us all:

Band or Artist That Most Makes You Go "Can Someone Please Explain What the Hell the Fuss About This Band or Artist is All About?"

You know...rock or pop or r&b acts that lots of people whose opinions you respect seem to dig the most but for the life of you can't figure out why.

Oh -- and a coveted PowerPop No-Prize obviously goes to commenter Anonymous, who suggested this theme during last week's desperate cry for help. I thank you, my nameless friend!

Okay, and my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. Swans

Doom and gloom and minimalist droning, usually at volume levels that make your ears bleed. Actually, I only ever knew one guy who really loved this band, but since he was a bit of a genius I give them a try from to time. Never works.

5. The Cocteau Twins

These long-running Brits are supposed to be....what? Some kind of hauntingly ambient Celtic whatsis, I guess; all I know is lots of people swear by them but to my ears they just sound kind of watery and uninteresting. Sorry

4. Kings of Leon


Don't get 'em at all, except for the earnest angst. Which would be a great name for a folk singer, now that I think of it.

3. Genesis with Peter Gabriel

He finally lost me with the Mr. Potato Head outfit, but even this earlier and relatively straightforward performance reduces me to scowling fidgets. Seriously -- I like a lot of Gabriel's 80s output, and the Phil Collins version of Genesis was an argreeable hit machine, to be sure. But the 70s prog stuff?

2. The Killers

Forget their music, which strikes me as mediocre and derivative at best, but if anybody has a clue about those feathered epaulets on the singer please e-mail me.

And the numero uno artiste that make me go "Huh?" but other folks seem to grok to the nth degree is...

1. Fleet Foxes

What I hear from these guys is a mediocre early 70s Southern California folk-pop band, like America without the chops and with even less charisma, but apparently I'm missing something. Bueller? Bueller?

Alrighty then -- and your choices would be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best films about the heroic struggle of the Little Guy against the odds!!! -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could take a moment to go over there and leave some sort of snark in the comments section it would help keep me in good with management. Thanks!]


Gummo said...

The Dave Matthews Band.


steve simels said...

I know what you mean. The guy has obvious charisma but the music...I dunno.

Sal Nunziato said...

PAVEMENT. 5 Shows in Central Park, already sold out in September 2010!(Or is it 4 shows?)

mcpart said...

I would look no further than this year's trinity
of hipster hype: Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear
and Dirty Projectors.

I actually like that Fleet Foxes record for some
reason. Reminds me of winter.

steves said...

Bright Eyes.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain this guy's appeal to me.

The Phantom Creep said...

i hate to speak ill of the dead, especially one who died so tragically.

But I find Elliot Smith incomprehensible on every level.

racymind said...

Practically any band that is currently booked in the Houston area megaconcert venue 10 miles north of the city.

Cleveland Bob said...

Gosh. So many choices.

I'd have to go with The Cure. Robert Smith just bugs the fuck outta me.

I've also always had an intense dislike of a certain brand of classic rock that includes Bob Seger, Eddie Money and of course, The Nuge.

Anonymous said...

Guided By Voices. Thought they were brilliant for like 90 minutes live, but they played for 4+ hours. (Maybe someday I'll have the patience to sift through their 904 albums, but it seems unlikely.)
Dashboard Confessional, and "Emo" in general. (See my forthcoming country-rock album "I'm Too Old For Emo.")
My Morning Jacket. Polyphonic Spree (Aieee!). Galaxie 500 (Velvets for Dummies.) And, although some members of my immediate tribe would hang me from a lamppost for saying so, I find that The Pixies haven't aged particularly gracefully.
- bill buckner

cthulhu said...

Creed, Nickelback, Foo Fighters, etc. - what I've been calling "bellow rock" (much to the annoyance of my kids) because it seems that all the lead singer does is bellow at the audience.

U2 - I like maybe one or two songs per album (until their latest few, which went down to zero songs per album). Thought they had the potential early on to take over the Who's mantle as the thinking man's rock band, but it was not to be...

Noam Sane said...

Wilco. I tried, again, with this latest album, and didn't even get through the first tired, lousy, cliched song. Not only don't they live up to the hype, they're quite often awful. Somebody change my mind.

And yup, I had the same experience with Fleet Foxes, Steve. A sort of pleasant nothingness that quickly grows irritating.

And this is gonna get me whacked, but Richard Thompson. He's so full of earnest angst, it's exhausting. Oversings everything, like some kind of Celtic-influenced Michael Bolton.

Anonymous said...

i'm gonna get whacked for these for sure, but here goes-

leonard cohen
(can't the guy even *try* to sing? even to a huge fan of lou reed and tom waits fan like me, his monotone is too much)

(aside from the first two albums)

and then there are bands that i kind of like but feel that i'm supposed to love, like the hold steady

David said...

And I have to second the following:
Wilco--just can't excited about them
Pavement (with some exceptions)
Bright Eyes

Anonymous said...

two more-

joy division
(except for 'love will tear us apart.' which i realize to a JD fan is like saying, 'i never did get the beatles, but i love "hello goodbye")

the jam

in both cases i much prefer the 'lite' versions (new order, style council)

Wendy said...

Polyphonic Spree (Aieee!).
- bill buckner

Hell, yeah. Saw them open for Bowie (sorry, Steve) a few years ago. All that jumping, flailing, yelling and pointing ... holy crap (literally)! At one point during the show, someone in the audience started yelling, "Drink the Kool-Aid!" and by the time they were done I wanted to punch somebody.

And my word is "stieve" ... :-)

Wendy said...

Kim Carnes. Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard.

And Paula Cole. Pretentious twit.

Anonymous said...

I agree with an earlier post - so many choices.

A few that quickly come to mind---

Sting - There may be a more pompous, self-important "artist" out there but thankfully I can't think of one.

U2 - I'll go a bit further than the previous poster, They've had a couple of good songs, then they too became "artists" and started doing "important" music. Whatever.

Tonio K - I've tried, honest, but the guy simply cannot sing.

Celine Dion - There simply is no defending this woman.

Television - Very nearly unlistenable

1 very specific gripe. I remember hearing many times long ago that Blonde On Blonde was Dylan's magnum opus. I think it's got some good stuff on it but it's far from his best work. I never have understood why that would rank as the one "must have" Dylan album.

Last but not least I'll have to again mention Dave Matthews. I can't even say I'm sure what language he's mumbling in. Yeah I guess he's really into it, but so what.

steve simels said...

I must the "Blonde on Blonde" dis baffles me.

Celine Dion, not so much...

dave™© said...

No contest: The Beatles.

(OK, I keed, I keed!)

dave™© said...

Glad to see Dave Matthews in the very first post.

Not sure if Polyphonic Spree belongs here, though. Aren't they more of a "one-hit wonder"?

And I really don't think Bob Seger belongs in the same category as Eddie Money or (shudder) Nugent. Seger has a very deep catalog, for one thing, and some pretty good songs.

jeff said...

Brian Wilson - While I'm not a huge fan, it's the fuss, not the artist, that baffles me. I can't think of anyone, aside from Thomas Pynchon, who inspires more defensive gush. Brilliant he may be, but if I hear "Brian Wilson is a Genius!" once more I'll, I'll... go into a corner and stew, that's what I'll do.

Wendy said...


The Killers.

Franz Ferdinand.

Red Hot Chili Peppers (although I did like a couple of songs off "Stadium Arcadium", but between Kiedis's moves and clothes, and Flea's headbouncing, definitely unwatchable, if not unlistenable).

And I'm with everyone who said Dave Matthews.

Unknown said...

A big yes to Wilco - country music for people who've never heard country music, and are drunk, and deaf.

A big, big yes to Bright Eyes - Dan Fogleberg Lite.

No to Blonde on Blonde. It's the place to start for Dylan, in part BECAUSE every song is not a deathless classic so you can hear where his style is coming from without being overwhelmed by the imagery.

And while Richard Thompson can be annoying, it's hard to deny that the guy can write and play.

And may I add...Tori Amos?

Ted Nugent, even before he was a wingnut, goes in a slightly different category. Mediocre artists whose appeal to thei audience is perfectly understandable, considering their audience. The Grateful Dead belongs here as well. You know why people like them. They may suck but you can get good acid at their concerts.

But been if I can see why morons go for the Dead. I can't see why they go for Blues Traveller. Why follow a jam band that can't play?

steve simels said...


Can't believe I forgot them. Seriously -- what's the appeal? Some bald mofo singing portentously about his deep personal hurt...

I don't get it.

Michael said...

On the mermaid sessions they sound great. On their own CD's they sound like an idea overthought and weary.

Like most contemporary bands they need to spend more time writing songs worth listening to and less time trying to be innovative.

NYMary said...

The Smiths. Just. Don't. Get. It.

(Although one member of Shoes who shall remain nameless does a dead-on evil Morrissey impression, almost better than my friend Bill's.)

And yes, The Cure.

Anonymous said...

A few others that slipped my mind

The Beach Boys - Tried hard, they just aren't my cup of tea

Frank Zappa - I loved some of his album titles & covers. The music, not at all.

Captain Beefheart - Definitely a taste I didn't aquire

BTW - I stand by my feelings regarding Blonde On Blonde - a good album, absolutely. THE definitive Dylan album, not to my ears.

Gummo said...

The Grateful Dead belongs here as well. You know why people like them. They may suck but you can get good acid at their concerts.

I've never gotten good acid at a Dead show; however, I have DONE good acid at a Dead show.

Actually, some of the best Dead shows I ever saw I was straight as the proverbial arrow, no pot, nuthin'.

And yeah, while I like the first couple of Wilco albums, and love the Guthrie collaborations with Billy Bragg, they're definitely a Potential Unfulfilled band for me. Songs that are never quite catchy or coherent enough. It's a shame, 'cause I do like Tweedy's voice.

And a lot of grunge falls into this category for me. Combining loud fuzz crotch-rock guitars with self-pitying little twerp lyrics? Yuck.

Gummo said...

Let me jump on the Zappa train.

As Lou Reed once said, Frank Zappa is the most untalented bore who ever lived.

steves said... that you mention it, I've always considered post-Velvets, post-"Walk on the Wild Side" Lou Reed to be about as much of an empty leather jacket as ever walked on this side of Christopher Street.

Gummo said... that you mention it, I've always considered post-Velvets, post-"Walk on the Wild Side" Lou Reed to be about as much of an empty leather jacket as ever walked on this side of Christopher Street.

So what you're saying is it takes one to know one? ; )

steve simels said...

Post Velvets-Lou Reed can be dicey, but a lot of the 80s albums are terrific, The Blue Mask in particular.

And New York, of course.

Blue Ash Fan said...

I'm glad to see that some people had the good sense to mention Guided By Voices. Huh? I saw them co-headlining with Cheap Trick and by the end of the 89-song set (at least, that's what it felt like), I wanted to strangle the lot of them. They spent more time drinking than playing and each song sounded exactly like the one preceding it. By the time they finally went off, I was that obnoxious asshole yelling "You suck. Get the f*** off the stage." Torture.

Among fans of a certain type of music, Shawn Colvin is held in ridiculously high regard. How anybody can listen to somebody that self-absorbed and not think of Tonio K.'s immortal line, "I'm going to K-I-L-L one of us, baby/Give me time and I'll decide on which" is beyond me.

Beck. I guess he was some sort of genius in the '90s, right? How many people still listen to their old "Mellow Gold" and "O-Delay" CDs of tuneless dreck? I'd be willing to bet not too many.

U2. My best friend loves them, so I try. Lord knows I try. And their appeal just eludes me.

Dave Matthews has been mentioned repeatedly. Had to get through his interminable set to get to Bruce at Vote for Change in '04. The guy I went with summed up the five-"song" set this way: It sounded like five drum solos with other people playing along. And to think that Ian Hunter plays clubs.

Any and all rappers. C'mon. Somebody had to say it.

Dissing Tonio K.? On Steve's blog? Wow! That takes a set and a half.

steve simels said...

BTW, the single most inexplicable band I've seen in my life was Muse, the opening act for U2 last week.

They're apparently chart toppers in like 24 countries.

Butt ugly music, zero charisma.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I agree with a lot of the comments, and Steve's list.

But there is one, maybe two on Steve's list that are personal faves, and no, I'm not going to try to defend my liking.

The thing is, is that music resonates with different people for different reasons, and personal taste doesn't necessarily need to be defended.

For instance, I have a soft spot for BOC (not mentioned yet) even though they have plenty of their own cringe worthy moments. I liked iem as a teenager, and still like em, and am willing to endanger my IMS standing by admitting it.

steves said...

So what you're saying is it takes one to know one? ; )

Hey, if the jacket fits, by all means...

Stephenc. said...

Radiohead. How can any band named after a Talking Heads song be so bad?

And why is John Mayer so popular? I swear he and Dave Matthews are really the same person.

MBowen said...

Jeff Buckley. Tim Buckley. Betty Buckley. William F. Buckley.

Henry Rollins, Black Flag, and all of American hardcore.

Sonic Youth.

Lydia Lunch.

My Morning Jacket.

Gram Parsons.

MBowen said...

Oh, and I agree with the Wilco comments - I've seen them live a couple of times now and each time I've lost interest in each song before it ends.

Noam Sane said...

Gram Parsons.

Thank you.

And the Mike Bloomfield I've heard strikes me as a load of white-boy open-mic-night wankery.

I could go on.

cthulhu said...

Somebody above mentioned grunge, but I have a specific grunge band in mind: Nirvana. Sure, Cobain banged out a couple of nice tunes ("All Apologies" comes to mind), but I never got the swooning over "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - we're supposed to treat it as the second coming of John Lennon? Gotta be the most overrated band (and Cobain the most overrated songwriter) of the last 30 years.

And a second to the recommendation for Lou Reed's 1980's output, especially "The Blue Mask", "Legendary Hearts", and "New Sensations". But, as I mentioned in another Listomania a while back, "New York" has aged very badly for me.

Unknown said...

I'm glad to hear the slap at Bloomfield. I really liked his playing when I was a kid, but listening today he strikes me as a junkie waste. There's very little there that stands up to Clapton, Allman, Green, or other white players of the time. That said, his playing on the all-star "Fathers and Sons" album is really, really good.

Gummo said...

"New York" has aged very badly for me

Me too. It was basically the same song over & over and has all the artistic poetic expression of a mallet to the noggin.

It always reminded me of Lennon's "Hard Times in NYC" album, where he too was so anxious to "say something" that he forgot that the best way to win people over was with, y'know, songs that were actually catchy & memorable and -- what's that word? -- good.

But I agree, prior to that there's a lot of goodies to be found in Reed's 70s and 80s work.

MBowen said...

Unrelated question - in the Genesis clip Peter Gabriel has two different microphones taped together. I've seen other bands from around the same time period ('71 - '72) doing the same thing - I'm pretty sure I've seen live shots of Robert Plant and Mick Jagger with the same set-up. Does anyone know why they did that?

steve simels said...

I suspect one was a direct feed to tape, for recording purposes. As opposed to the sound mix for the house.

Unknown said...


Can't stand Madonna. Ever since I saw her very first video I just want someone to hose her down and send her home. Her music is totally uninteresting. Though I do love John Wesley Hardings cover of Like A Prayer.

Unknown said...

Steve, there's your next weekend topic: Records that have aged badly. "New York" is a perfect example. Didn't like it then, sounds worse now. Worst show I ever saw was Loud Reed on "New Sensations" tour. I was like bathing in mayonnaise.

Where's the love for Fleet Foxes? They just made the best record I've heard in 20 years. So, yeah, I guess they're perfect for this list.

Wilco, Wilco, Wilco. Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, Radiohead, Richard Thompson, Janis Joplin, Captain Beefheart ... and here's a bit of heresy: Jimi Hendrix. There, i said it.

John Mayer, Dave Matthews and their ilk (thanks, Hootie and the Blowfish!) are for people who hate music but don't know it.

And a shout out to whoever said Television. I love 'em, but God bless you for taking a swing.

Anonymous said...

The Grateful Dead, times a million. And even more because if more than 6 people are assembled and a guitar is nearby, the odds of someone playing a Dead song approach 100%.

Eric Clapton. One and a half good songs over 40 years, sauced in easy listening dreck. Whoever above that dissed Mike Bloomfield must admit that Clapton has wasted much more of our time. And what does it say when he's the 2nd best guitarist on his own best album ?

And here's my indefensible-but-true: I like Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros a lot better than the Clash. Top that, music snobs!

--Nosmo King

steve simels said...

And here's my indefensible-but-true: I like Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros a lot better than the Clash. Top that, music snobs!

--Nosmo King

Isn't that kind of like saying you like Wings better than the Beatles?

Gummo said...

[picks up guitar, starts strumming "Bertha"...]

MJConroy said...

Lots of great choices so far - few I disagree with. A hearty amen to DMB and Grateful Dead belonging to this list.
But unless I missed it, I did not see Coldplay listed yet. So I've fixed that.
Probably hundreds more could be listed!
Death Cab for Cutie - my son is a big fan - I don't get them.

mcpart said...

I think Joe Strummer and Latino Rockabilly War slays
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros.

Hipster Check!

Anonymous said...

thought of one i'd missed. now for a 'high fidelity'-style top 5, in no particular order:

* the decemberists
* radiohead (after the first two)
* leonard cohen
* joy division (give me the lite version, new order)
* the jam (ditto, style council)

@whut said...

The Knack

(what was the question again?)

Feral said...

Guns n' Roses

Bob S. said...

The Replacements - they only had one good song (I'll Be You), there's nothing very original about them, and too often they seem to be whining.

Trip McClatchy said...

Prog - every single note.

Aimee Mann - Why so glum?

TV on The Radio - Art(less) rock.

Zappa - I hate music. It's got too many notes.

Iron and Wine, Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens - Wake up!!! (that said, I love the Fleet Foxes... go figure.)

But I'm totally on board with the Beach Boys, Blonde on Blonde, Bright Eyes, Wilco's first three and the MF-in Replacements. I thought prime Mats were unassailable. I was wrong.

David Rasmussen said...

Inspiring list, though I admit to liking/loving a good 20% of the offenders... a fine line between treasure and trash.

Walking Oliver Productions, Ltd said...

Late getting in on this one but just found the blog and couldn’t resist getting my licks in…

Agree with John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Coldplay, MOST of Lou Reed (sorry, Steve)

Have to take issue with Richard Thompson and Zappa – certainly annoying at times but the music speaks for itself.

Can add to the list Oasis? Pere Ubu? Most post “Rain Dogs” Tom Waits? (ooh, hated to do that!) and about a million others. Fun, fun.

Anonymous said...

Led Zeppelin. In spades.