May 17, 2019
I Had No Idea... Y'all remember The Art Of Noise, right? New Wave band, did that thing with Max Headroom, and that other thing with Tom Jones, and that other other thing with Duane Eddy, and the video with the kinda creepy little girl directing people to destroy various musical instruments in various entertaining ways? Right, that song was titled "Close (To The Edit)", and like a lot of Noise's stuff, it still holds up really well today.
But here's the thing: I always assumed that it was all electronic stuff and samples and drum machines. And maybe it was, but I only just learned that Trevor Horn produced the band... indeed, he was actually part of the band. And between him, Anne Dudley, and a Fairlight, there was actual, y'know, music. That could be played live. A stunning concept for what I thought was nothing but a studio band.
How did I discover this? Like most revelations, I discovered it accidentally, by stumbling over a 2004 Prince's Trust concert celebrating the career of Trevor Horn. His work with The Buggles, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Yes, Seal, ABC, and others all performed live... and then this:
Completely gobsmacked. I knew Horn played bass, but holy crepe on a stick, he does seem to be pretty damn good at it. Oh, and those drummers are doing some serious work.
And it was live. Who knew the Art of Noise was a real live boy?
Note: If the video isn't working, click here!
May 02, 2019
When Cover Songs Try Too Hard Last night I found myself following a pointer gleaned from over at J's place into the darker recesses of Yootoob. I came hunting for the promise of a good cover song, made likely by the musician being Jonathan Coulton... y'know, the guy who wrote Portal's theme song? So into this den of iniquity I went, and I found an entire album, entitled Some Guys, of cover songs of '70s hits and ballads. I began listening... and I found myself confused.
That's not a cover song! Oh, it is of course... that's Coulton singing instead of Gerry Rafferty... but there's practically no difference between the two. Is that a cover, or is it a tribute, or just a knockoff? The entire album is like this, nigh-on note perfect copies of 40-year-old songs. And I have to ask: why bother? Don't get me wrong, it's a tour-de-force by Coulton. The performances are excellent, and if you didn't know better you'd swear you were listening to the originals.
And that's the problem, isn't it? If I wanted to listen to the original song, I'd just listen to the original, not Jonathan Coulton pretending to be Gerry Rafferty, no matter how good at it he is.
I'm long of the belief that a good cover song must have a healthy dollop of the covering band's flavor on top of the original. The best example of this that I can come up with off the top of my head is the song "Got The Time".
Classic song by Joe Jackson in his "angry young man" phase, somewhere after punk but before new wave kicked in. He's long been my favorite musician, and this is easily one of my favorite of his tracks. Until I heard a cover of it.
By heavy metal band Anthrax.
Now it's still one of my favorite Joe Jackson songs, I just prefer this version. It's still the same song, just performed in Anthrax's inimitable style. It's no slavish copy, it's just a brilliant repurposing.
THAT's what I think a cover song should be like. Don't copy: adapt.
April 24, 2019
Everybody Sayin' "What About Us?" Sometimes being half-asleep when browsing can turn up some gems. Like this:
March 28, 2019
Extending Apologies To The Spookliy-Named Group
Well, Ghost is much too weird for me to explain them.
That's what I said in the blurb for the Pet Shop Boys' cover in the last post. I'd like to apologize for that, because some few hours has taught me quite a lot about the band from Sweden. You would do well to turn the volume up on this post, by the way.
Everybody knows what a concept album is, right? A bunch of songs devoted to the same thing telling a story as they go... The Who's Tommy, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Joe Jackson's Big World, Alan Parson's Project's Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Styx's Paradise Theatre, all examples of the concept album. Well, Ghost takes it one farther: they're a concept band! The concept is, however, that they're a Satanic cult led by their charismatic frontman. Said frontman has until only lately been appearing in skull makeup and church regalia. These days, he wears a Uncanny Valley facemask.
Didn't make the satanism rumors go away, which is probably exactly what Ghost wants. The more I think about it, the more I believe them to be more performance art than musical band... though considering their formidable skills, I'd not say that to their faces. These Followers of the Morning Star can friggin' rock.
Yes, that's right, that's a Grammy Award they've got there. They won the 2016 award for Best Metal Performance for their song Cirice.
Nowadays the Grammys aren't worth much of a much, but for people of a certain age... ahem... that remember what they used to be, there's still a cachet to owning one. And while that's a helluva music video they've got there, Ghost seems to be a better live act. Here's a live version of Cirice, for example.
Across the board the band's official videos are... inventive. To the point that sometimes they take away from the actual music... the video for Rats! is so goofballish that the song (which isn't one of their best, it must be said) just gets swamped. At other times, the video will actually explain the song (see Cirice, for example). Often enough, fortunately, the band'll leave things open to interpretation, forcing you to actually listen. Square Hammer appears to be freemasonry, clever since how many people actually KNOW what a Mason is/was anymore?
In a lot of ways, there's nothing new with Ghost. They're absolutely metal, taking cues from all over the map: Kiss and Metallica are references mentioned in interviews (and there's a kickass cover of Enter Sandman played in front of the King of Sweden, too... turns out Hetfield's a fan!). They don't seem to be just the usual headbanging heavy riffers... there's a serious amount of songwriting and musical talent here. I'm tempted to say that this is "Metal For The Thinking Man", except they'd probably make fun of me for being pretentious. But come on, read the lyrics to what I think is their best song, He Is:
If you didn't know better, this is Christian Rock. At least, it is to start. It sort of heads south (if you know what I mean) along the way to the end. Even then though, you really have to be thinking about what the lyrics are saying to catch it. The reference to the story of the burning bush speaking to Moses is really sneaky... when Moses asks for proof that he's truly speaking to God, the reply is "I am who I am." So "he is" is second... or is it third?... person referencing here. Circles within circles.
I find online reaction videos to Ghost to be hilarious. Either people love them, or they're confused as hell... that reaction is usually from self-described christians. These guys love the song, but despise the message, except then they don't like the song, but they do, and... and... and... they're right though, Mere Christianity is a wonderful book.
Go out, give 'em a listen, you might be surprised. Or you might hate them. Either response is perfectly valid, and I'd understand either one. Or don't think about it and just bang your head vigorously. That works too.
March 23, 2019
Two For GreyDuck, One For Everybody, And One For Nobody GD, I heard these two and immediately thought of you. It's up to you if you think that's a good thing or not.
Apparently Covenant isn't new... I see album dates of 2000, 2001, so on and so forth, so perhaps you're familiar with them already. But some good stuff there.
Oh look, it's a weird cover of a Pet Shop Boys tune. Well, Ghost is much too weird for me to explain them, but their original music is very heavy indeed.
I think by definition if you're a member of the Pond Scum, you get some level of enjoyment out of bagpipes. This song has appeared on The Pond before, back in Saturday Night Tunage V where it was performed by the Victoria Police Pipe Band as opposed to the Red Hot Chili Pipers. I just realized something, and it terrifies me: in the blurb for the song in SNTV, I mention that I first heard the song "nine years ago." I wrote that in 2011. Eeurgh.
So Formula 1 knocks on the door of the Chemical Brothers and says "we like your stuff. Or, really, our grandkids like your stuff. Do a song for us." And the Chemical Brothers said "we like dogs." The rest, as they say, is history. This is an awful, awful tune. However, as a riff dispenser it's top-notch, and I fully expect to be seeing F1 commercials and broadcasts using snippets from the track as backing music. Other than that? Well, the "Powered by NEEEEUM" on the car made me laugh. If you don't get why, say it out loud while watching a F1 car drive past.
March 17, 2019
Yes, I Know That's The Point, But Still... Look, I get that this sort of music is supposed to be catchy. I don't know if Momoland is an Idol team like AKB40 or whatever, or if they're just a K-Pop act, and I'm not entirely sure I care. What I do care about is that "catchy" doesn't quite go far enough to define "Boom Boom".
Seriously. Weaponized catchy. The followup, "Bbam", isn't quite as good, but hell, that's like saying Godfather II isn't as good as The Godfather. It's not, but nobody cares because II is still pretty damn good.
I hope for their next track they move into less onomatopoeia for explosions as a concept.
Enjoy all this while you wait for the the Australian F1 writeup, won't you?
March 01, 2019
A Question Answered... By Anime! For most of the nearly four years I've worked at my present job, there has been a constant face in the evenings/night shifts... the head of the cleaning crew. They usually show up around 8pm, empty garbage cans, clean bathrooms, vacuum, that sort of thing, y'know? I've made it a point to smile and nod, or wave, or something, to the guy in charge, because hell, he's cleaning up our mess. Without him, I suspect the office would look like Pond Central before the "condemned" sign went up in no time at all.
However, in one of those "I don't know X, and by now I'm afraid to ask" moments, I don't know his name. He told me a few years ago, yes, but he has a very thick Slav/Eastern European/Something accent, and it just got by me. I mean, it's not a big deal, it's not like we talk or anything... a nod, a wave, that's about it. And, to be honest, I'm just about the only person there who does even that much. There's always a few people in a business setting you don't want to piss off: the office manager, the head of the cafeteria, and the head of housekeeping all leap to mind... Anyway. Tonight. It is 8pm, and I've been the only person in the entire building since about 6pm... I had a couple of hours to make up. Anyway, because I was sick and tired of headphones, I had hooked up my mp3 player to a couple of cheap external speakers and was rocking out whilst doing claims. Mr Head Of Housekeeping was a couple rows over, using a push-brush to clean up a spill before he brought out the real vacuum, and something wonderful happened.
He started singing along. "It was a song my grandfather sang." I'm still not entirely sure where he's from originally, but he knows Katushya... and his first name is Alexander. I'm not sure how I didn't get that the first time around. What the hell, let's do another Russian song!
I first heard this maybe four or five years ago (edit: SIX! Saturday Night Tuneage XVIII, would you believe?), I didn't know what I just heard then, I'm still not sure now, but damn it's fun anyway!
February 14, 2019
Watching Excellent People Do Their Jobs Excellently Lighting Designers know that there is a God and He loves us, because there are Pink Floyd concerts to light.
"So, Mr Lighting Designer... my concept for the lights on Run Like Hell is throw as many instruments as you want into the arena and just live it up."
"I think I can work with that."
Seriously, though... whoever thought up the "projection screen with lights around it" idea had better have gotten a raise that day.
January 27, 2019
Perhaps The Easiest Question To Answer Ever Over at The Atomic Fungus, a small amount of griping can be seen regarding the rock band Queen. Fungus Prime is wondering just when this group of... moderately okay reputation became such a thing that they now are considered legendary. The song that causes such angst in the Fungal Vale is, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody, which lends its name to a well-regarded movie about Queen and Freddy Mercury. "Why have they suddenly became such icons?" is the refrain. Here's the thing: it wasn't sudden, but the exact starting point of this popularity can be traced to a very specific date and time:
July 13, 1985, 641pm London time.
It was Queen's performance at the Live Aid concert that turned them from a band of "that's nice" to the hottest thing on the planet. Some 33 years ago, give or take, I had pulled a comfy chair up in front of the TV, hooked a audio recorder up the the headphone jack, and diligently set about recording as much audio from the concerts as I could. I don't know what happened to those cassettes. I don't even remember if I caught Queen's set. But I know it now, and if any one thing can be said to make a band popular, this would be the poster child.
A tight band full of talented musicians playing nigh-on perfectly, led by the consummate showman who has 72000 people in Wembley Stadium and millions more watching across the world eating out of the palm of his hand. After that performance, oft called the greatest single live performance of all time, the question isn't how they became what they are, it's how come they didn't become bigger?
I don't know how much fandom I had for Queen before the show, but I appreciated them a lot more afterwards, and to this day Radio GaGa is on my short list of favorite songs.
Oh, and that Wayne's World thing didn't hurt them, either.
December 11, 2018
Music? Gaming? Various? Other? I'm not entirely sure where to put this one, but I've got to linkify it or I'll go even more insane than usual.
K/DA - Pop/Stars
I don't know if any of the Pond Scum plays League of Legends. I don't, and I've never even been tempted to, and I'm not now. But I'll be damned if I don't think this song by four of the Heroes from the game (well, no, not really, but you know what I mean) isn't stupidly catchy. The video isn't anything to sneer at either... it wasn't all that long ago that animation would have been the only way to get something that looks like it. Nowadays you could pull it off in the real world with a lot of Premiere... heck, maybe it was rotoscoped, I dunno, they don't tell me these things.
Anyway, now you've got the song in your head too. Good luck with that.
December 02, 2018
Hey Wonderduck, What're You Listening To? Everybody has their musical obsessions of the moment, right? The stuff that you've simply got to hear when you're listening to music, on heavy rotation on your mp3 player, constantly streaming online, whatever, you've got 'em, your friends and co-workers have 'em, and I have 'em.
The difference is, I've got a blog.
Benny Goodman - Sing Sing Sing (Swingwhale Enhiezima Remix)
Because I simply will not let electroswing go down without a fight. And yes, I do think the original is better, but I like the addition of the modern bass elements. Plus, hell, it's fun stuff and I'm no expert on music theory or anything like that.
Kid Kasino & Dutty Moonshine - Everybody
Sometimes you stumble across clever music in the strangest of places. One place that has a surprisingly high ratio of "entertaining tunes" to "content" is gameplay videos. I was watching a guy named Arlios and his World of Warships highlight vids, when a couple of minutes into it I realized I was diggin' the tune more than the gameplay. That's happened before, but it's always a fun time when it occurs. The videos are good, too!
Zooly - Siri Says
Lets get this out of the way right now: I'm not sure if I like the song, or I like the AMV and the song just tags along. What I didn't realize is that the AMV is by Haunter103, the creator of The Greatest AMV Ever. While it's not as good as that one... how could it be, when it's up against The Greatest AMV Ever?... it's still awfully darn good. Song's catchy too.
Adhesive Wombat - Anthem
Speaking of music in gameplay videos... you know the game SuperHot? FPS, time only moves when you move, opponents are all red? This song was used in SuperHot's greenlight trailer. Is it original? No. Is it repetitive? Yes. Do I care? No. Do I enjoy listening to it? Yes.
Gevolt - Khokhotshet
Klezmer is a type of music originally played by Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews, but got mixed with American jazz in the 1920s. That's the version most people are familiar with; the original style is apparently having a quiet resurgence. Heavy Metal is a type of music that stems from the late '60s that includes the use of driving guitars, a heavy bass and drum back beat, and often dramatic (or overdramatic) singing. Klezmer Metal is an unholy mutant that is simply wrong in so many ways. Which is what makes it so stinkin' good. Seriously, if that isn't some of the best metal music you've heard recently, you've got to tell me what you're listening to that's better.
Korpiklaani - Ievan Polkka
Hatsune Miku is over in the corner crying, because in Finland even the polkas are metal. And yes, that viking is wielding a feather duster. And this might be the best use of Valve's software ever.
Right, that's all. Everybody back on your heads.
November 11, 2018
NEW PSB EP!!! Ladies and gentlemen, Public Service Broadcasting has released a new EP.
White Star Liner is the story of the Titanic, from her construction to her sinking. The band got to debut the songs in June, as it turns out, during the BBC's "Big Weekend" concert in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. The stage was placed on the graving yards that the great ship was actually built upon, and if that isn't cool, what is?
Here's the first song:
White Star Liner is available wheresoever you choose to get your music thang on. It was $4.00 on Amazon, for reference's sake. Now if only they'd come to the Chicago area...
September 18, 2018
Hey Everybody It's Music Time! Nope, nothing deep today! Just a couple of AMVs I've stumbled across in the past few weeks that I want to share with y'all. C'mon, it's fun!
Because who doesn't like a good pillow fight scene in an anime?
There just aren't enough good Ben-To! AMVs out there. Then again, it's not like it was the most popular series ever to air in Japan... or over here, for that matter. I loved it, but it's not like I have a surfeit of taste, y'know?
Saturday Anime Night
So I watched this for the first time, and as it was playing I kept thinking to myself, "gee, I wish they had used a different version of the song, one that doesn't sound so... sparse." A minute or two later? Heh. Keep watching.
She Loves That Rock And Roll
Some time ago (jeez, it's been FIVE YEARS), I put up a post that included an AMV called "We Dream We Can". I've always thought of that as being the best K-On! music video I've seen. A challenger appears! Bonus points for using ELO.
One day, I'll have to do a post, one amv for each series I've done a writeup for. Because it would amuse me, that's why.
August 16, 2018
I Didn't Realize... Today, we lost Aretha Franklin, unarguably a music legend no matter what you like to listen to.
I know this is how I was first exposed to her as a young duckling, but what would you expect? I was born in Chicago, Momzerduck was almost killed by The Blues Brothers, not the band but the film crew, and everybody hates Illinois Nazis.
But did you know that today in history was also when Elvis Presley died?
Sorry for posting the AMV instead of the original version, either of the remake or the original original. But I'm still amazed by the work that must have gone into the AMV, particularly because it's 15 years old.
Also on this date?
Yep. Bela Lugosi. To think that multiple generations know him only from this song... it's a shame, it really is.
Okay, yeah, pretty weak sauce for a post, but whaddya want for nuthin', a rubber biscuit?
August 05, 2018
That Made Me Happy! So I was wandering around the web earlier Saturday, just going where it took me, wound up reading some of the Fluff for Warhammer 40K again. I've discovered a WH40K writer/audiobook reader combination that I'm fascinated by of late (Aaron Dembski-Bowden and Jonathan Keeble and the Black Legion series), so I've been spending a lot of time in the 40K universe recently. Fun to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there... and if I did, I expect it'd be a very short life with a very violent end. That's just the way things are there.
Remember, these are the good guys.
Anyway, after reading more than I really ever wanted to know about the Necrons ("We're gonna need a bigger can opener..."), I somehow found myself reading about spaceflight, which took me to yootoob for some fun times watching booster-cam footage. While doing that, I realized I had never seen good footage of a real "Korolev's Cross", just KSP-based versions. So I went looking, and discovered something I didn't know existed.
As it turns out, Korolev is the B-side of a remix disc of Sputnik by Public Service Broadcasting. Clearly it belongs on their album "The Race For Space", but it's not on mine.
What a great thing to discover on a day off: a new PSB song!
July 30, 2018
Dredd I have spoken of the 2012 movie Dredd before, about how I thought it captured the feel and texture of the Judge Dredd universe quite well. My opinion on the film does need to be tempered by my lack of experience with the source material, but I've enough to realize that it done good. Karl Urban in particular needs praise for his performance of the title character, particularly because he never takes off the iconic helmet during the film... when was the last time you saw a movie star do that?... and is still able to bring life to the role. What I'm saying here is that if you like a good action film, or you're a fan of Judge Dredd, go watch it immediately.
However, that's not really why I'm here today. Nope, today I'm here to expose y'all to the MUSIC from Dredd. I never really noticed the music the times I've watched the film, but the soundtrack was pointed out to me by one of those "Everything Wrong" style yootoob viddys. And brother, were they right to say that the music is great!
Now I can see how people may not like the industrial/krautrock/synth/whatever aesthetic of the music. I can't define what genre it is, not really. But then, I don't much care either: I just like the music.
Enough that I've got the soundtrack lined up on Amazon for digital purchase, that's how much.
Okay everybody, enough music. Go back to work now.
March 12, 2018
I Will Never Understand My Brain Saturday night, somewhere around midnight. I'm listening to a playlist I found somewhere, apparently just random music when a song pops up: Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Yes, yes, the "more cowbell" song, ha ha very clever skit. Every time you listen to the song unironically an angel gets a Stratocaster, so forget you ever saw the skit. Anyway. That sent me on a tour of BOC's catalogue. Classics like friend Ben's favorite tune, Godzilla, or their tribute to Cthulhu, The Old Gods Return, or even Cities Aflame With Rock And Roll. It was at that point that I really realized:
They were nerds.
I mean, look at some of their other song titles: ETI (Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), Black Blade, Flaming Telepaths, Veteran of the Psychic Wars, Shooting Shark (which has one of the most '80s music videos ever), Shadow Warrior, and on and on and on. TOTALLY nerds. Which is actually really cool if you think about it... and yet, it feels like they would be wallflowers at the Metal Party, the outcasts who were only there because... well, you had to invite them. Then nobody would miss them when they left to go play D&D in Sandy's basement. Considering that... well, I can relate, is all I'm saying.
So I'm sitting here in Pond Central, enjoying a rare jam-out with a band's surprisingly good music list, when a track I haven't heard in literally decades comes on. And after the first line or two, it all comes back to me and I'm singing along. What song?
Why I remembered every word to the lyrics of this song, I can't even begin to tell you. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure I want to know what childhood trauma burned this into my confused and confusing brain. That it falls into my current vocal range and I actually sounded kinda good singing along just makes it all the weirder.
Oh well. Hey everybody, big shocking news: Wonderduck's a nerd.
March 01, 2018
Sometimes, Humanity Shows It Still Has Hope As I was getting dressed for work this morning, or more correctly, dawdling over getting dressed for work this morning, I spied a post over at that Reddit place asking why people like music or songs in languages they do not understand. Now, I've participated in a few threads like this in the past and have a stock answer: "You're wondering why people like this?" But as I looked through the thread, two comments leaped out at me. The first was a relative newby asking for music from anime... "I've seen FMA, and that had good music. Is there anything better?" A few moments later, I had posted God Knows..., which even if you're tired of the whole Haruhi thing, you've got to admit is a pretty darn good song, Undine which is a beautiful song that can still bring me to tears, and my latest OP obsession, Live for Life from Ben-To!. I felt smug. Not for any good reason, I just felt like I had dropped a bomb on this rookie's musical world. As it turns out, the responses have been quite positive.
But it was the other comment I saw that was really important. It was from someone who's a big fan of K-Pop. Now I know practically nothing about K-Pop in general; Gangam Style and some other tunes I may have stumbled across here or there, but there was one burning question I needed to ask... "Do you know anything about the band Rubber Duckie?" While he didn't, another comment soon appeared: their album is available on eBay Korea, but no English site that they could find had it. Which made me sad. And then came a small miracle: "I found that song on Youtube for you."
It's been a crappy couple of weeks at work. I'm still getting over that bastard of a virus. My left hip hurts. I'm rather unhappy with a lot of things. But this?
This made me happy.
February 16, 2018
Manliness Level: Over 9000 There comes a time for everybody who is honest with themselves where they must admit that they are not, and never will be, the absolute best at something. There is always someone better. Case in point: Ranveer Singh.
Not even in my wildest dreams could I hope to match the level of manliness shown in this song, Malhari, from the 2015 movie Bajirao Mastani. Just watching it made my beard grow four inches. My mustache, no feeble thing in its own right, began to sob. And all I could do is think that, yes, this could be shoehorned into West Side Story fairly easily. I mean... damn.
Now I hope Ph.Duck drops by The Pond soon...
February 06, 2018
NASAmanga Daioh Y'all remember Moonbase Alpha? The co-op game that NASA put together to simulate spaceman life on the Moon? For a while there, there was a hot meme involving the game's text-to-speech program repeatedly saying, and later singing, "John Madden." It's that last bit that concerns us today, for some of the singing that was arranged was actually fairly good... I mean, as good as you could expect a Stephen Hawking soundalike to sound. I've played around with text-to-speech in one game or another, and making it sound like... well, speech... isn't all that easy, so even those simple bits impress me.
And then there's this:
...to which my reaction was:
But wait! THERE'S MORE!
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