|07.20.16 at 12:19 pm ET|
This blog exists because if people are nerds about sports, they’re probably nerds about other things. My love of sports is relatively healthy. My love of pop music might kill me.
One of the best things about Twitter is finding people who share your tastes. My middle school days of being obsessed with Metallica have provided me more than enough information to shake my head at followers who tell me “… And Justice For All” is a great album. Because musical taste is purely subjective, any “take” is tolerated and can be thoroughly dissected.
(Well, mostly any take. “Rap music just isn’t music!” is a not-so-smart way of accidentally declaring you’re kind of racist. Just say you don’t like it.)
Yet of all the different artists one can discuss and argue about on Twitter, there is one that blows them all out of the water on the polarizing scale:
Ween was and is weird. From a musical (and perhaps also drug) standpoint, the duo of Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo (a.k.a. Gene and Dean Ween, respectively, a.k.a. Gener and Deaner, respectively) did everything.
They made albums on a four-track cassette recorder. They used out-of-time drums in place of traditional instrumental fills. They did intentionally bad a cappella. They played around with pitching voices up and down in ways that would make the Beatles regret ever introducing the trick. They made grand, polished albums. They wrote the ultimate Phish song (see below). They made an entire golden age country album featuring a song that is, by all accounts, a celebration of a random homosexual man. They mocked the living hell out of Thin Lizzy.
The average non-Ween-fan has definitely heard Ween before. If they don’t know them from Phish’s cover of “Roses are Free,” they know them from having heard “Voodoo Lady” in “Road Trip” or “Ocean Man” in “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
But of all the things Ween did, they didn’t suck. They were extremely versatile. Listen to “Don’t Laugh (I Love You),” then “Freedom of ’76″ and then “Back to Basom.” In three songs, you’re taken on a journey from drum machine hell to falsetto purgatory and finally to Mellotron and synth heaven.
After starting out in the mid-80s and putting out 11 non-live albums from 1990 through 2007, Ween broke up in 2012 when Freeman announced that was no longer Gener, a move that was linked to both his burgeoning sobriety and his desire for a solo career. Last year, the band began announcing reunion shows, and on Wednesday it was announced that they’ll play Boston’s House of Blues in August. They’ve amassed enough of a catalogue (and a loyal enough cult following) that they can pretty much play whatever they want.
There’s nothing wrong with weird. The world is a better place with Ween in it.
|07.19.16 at 9:00 am ET|
If you listen to Ordway, Merloni & Fauria, you are probably aware that Christian is a big fan of “The Bachelorette,” that he and his wife host viewing parties, and that he is the only guy at those parties.
On Monday night, Christian decided to take us inside one of those parties through the magic of Facebook live, and we got to meet his special guest — Rhode Island native Jared Haibon, who was on season 11 of “The Bachelorette.”
Check out the videos below:
|07.18.16 at 12:38 pm ET|
Over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2014, I — like just about every other person who measures time in new media sensations — discovered the “Serial” podcast.
“Serial” Season 1 focused on the murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old student at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. Lee was last seen leaving school at 3PM on January 13, 1999. Her body was discovered in a shallow grave in nearby Leakin Park two days later. The case was immediately treated as a homicide and eventually Lee’s ex-boyfriend, fellow student Adnan Syed, was arrested, charged, and eventually convicted of first-degree murder. For anyone reading a TV recap blog not familiar with this podcast, this probably seems like a huge spoiler, but it is not; these facts introduced to the listening audience almost immediately. The genius thing about “Serial” season 1 is that every episode was about the details surrounding the case, the “characters” involved, and questioning the “open-and-shutness” of a crime of passion.
The best episodes of “Serial” weren’t focused on forensics; the best episodes of “Serial” were focused on the personalities of those involved, the motivations for their actions in the turbulant aftermath of the murder and investigation and host Sarah Koenig’s constant questioning of the facts and her personal feelings to them. It sounds boring and was fascinating. “The Night Of” is the sequel to “Serial” we were all hoping Season 2 would be and wasn’t. Sorry, Sarah Koenig.
The reason I bring up “Serial” has less to do with the similarities between its main suspect, Adnan Syed, and the main suspect of “The Night Of”, Nasir Kahn, and more to do with the incredible detail being put into the character development of the main “players” in each story respectively. What we lacked in hardcore-network TV drama-style clue discovery goes above and beyond in the character development area, which reveals a ton about who we are dealing with in the wake of the murder of Andrea Cornish.
Questions Heading Into Episode 2:
- What kind of kid is Naz?
- What does John Stone see in Naz? What drew him back to this kid?
- Of all the detectives in NYC, why call Box? What makes him so important?
- What does the crime scene tell us about the killer and the crime?
Theory Heat Check
The Cat: The cat is more than likely a red herring. The cat was a device to show:
- Andrea left the back door open after she put the cat out.
- Andrea putting out the cat was not shot from Andrea’s point of view; this could be a cinematic device showing that her putting out the cat and possibly leaving the door unlocked was seen by someone else/someone watching the house.
- The cat showing up in Queens at Naz’s house is to show that the answer is closer than we think and that the answer is in what the cat saw. In other words, the truth will be revealed to the audience, not necessarily the characters.
You can check out the full notepad for both weeks HERE.
Entitled “Subtle Beast,” the title of episode 2 beautifully describes the mutual admiration Jack Stone and Det. Dennis Box have for each other as they stalk patiently around Naz’s case just waiting for their moment to strike. Jack admires the things Box has done in his career; Box admires what he seemingly knows Stone is capable of when properly motivated. Early on in the episode when speaking to his client, Stone reveals to Naz just who they are dealing with as Box’s reputation precedes himself:
“Box is the senior man here. He got that way by doing what he does well. He rolls up his sleeves, delegates nothing, takes all things personally. I’m not saying he’s a bad cop. On the contrary, he’s very good. And like all good cops, he does you over just inside the rules. He’s a talented oppressor. Subtle beast.”
We get to see how subtle Box is in virtually every single scene of this episode; it is genius-level procedural sleight of hand. Naz’s parents have no legal right to see him because he’s no longer a minor? That’s fine; Ol’ Box will just sneak your parents in to visit because they seem like nice people and casually get the conversation on video recording just in case Naz lets some details slip.
Can’t speak to the suspect without his lawyer present? It’s fine; Ol’ Box will just do some paperwork in the room the suspect, Naz, happens to be held.
Can’t get Naz to spill any details about the night in question even though he literally handed him a lifeline in the form of an inhaler? That’s fine; let’s just ship you off to Riker’s Island in a Harvard tee-shirt; a nice subtle way to help a naive kid scared out of his mind stand out when all he wants to do is fade into the background.
His actions aren’t vindictive, they’re just “Inception” level tactics of planting land mines that will eventually go off; they are ways to rattle the tree to see what falls out. The dark eyes of the deer head in Andrea’s brownstone aren’t the only pair staring straight out in hopes of catching subtle details. This isn’t the first time Box has been in this situation.
Standing across the ring from Box and pacing like a journeyman fighter who has made a career out of taking punches is Jack Stone. While there is nothing subtle about his direct actions — verbally sparring with detectives in the bullpen, sitting beneath his own garish “NO FEE UNTIL YOU’RE FREE” signs on the subway, violently scratching his increasingly worsening eczema-ridden feet — he too is moving into the perfect position to strike. The audience is treated to a hint of just how sharp Stone is when crossing paths with Det. Box in the bullpen:
Box: I feel for him.
Stone: I’m sure you do.
Box: I do. I let him talk to his distraught parents.
Stone: Yeah? You tape it?
Box: This is a little out of your league, isn’t it, John?
Stone: [gesturing towards the vending machine] Bloomberg would have been appalled by the snacks here.
Box: You’re not gonna get rich off of it, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s gonna be the shortest trial in history.
Stone: Yeah? Is that why you haven’t charged him? He doesn’t feel right for it, does he? Something in your gut isn’t liking him for this and you can’t bring yourself to pull the switch.
Granted, while you can expect David Price’s dialogue — which has made everything from movies like “Clockers” to television staples like “The Wire” to works of fiction like “Lush Life” explode off of their respective mediums — to pop like that, John Turturro’s delivery reminded me of a boxer just luring in his opponent so he can land some hurtin’ bombs right before the bell. Straight Rope-A-Dope style gamesmanship. Like his opponent, this isn’t Stone’s first match either.
Side Note: I want to see the backstories of both Jack Stone and Dennis Box and I want to see them now. I’m more interested in seeing their early tangles on the way up in the New York City justice department than I am seeing young Han Solo and young Boba Fett cross paths on various Kessel Runs.
Ultimately, the most revealing parts of the episode had everything to do with the storytelling — not necessarily WHAT was said, but HOW it was said. Every single character in tonight’s episode– with the exception of Naz and his family– approached the events of the worst night of this 23-year-old’s life as if they were as routine as getting a coffee on the way into the office.
Det. Box has risen to his level of prestige because of his relentless pursuit of the truth;that pursuit takes time, patience, and repetition. Going through the motions of investigating this case is no different.
Jack’s navigation of the legal system has been honed over years of battling in the courts on every case he can scare up — which by the looks of it are few and far between and not the most prestigious. He takes good news and bad news about his clients the same way: en route to another meeting trying to hustle for to be someone’s legal representation. That kind of numb perseverance takes a long time to craft.
We meet District Attorney Helen Weiss. She’s outside smoking a cigarette on the steps of a courthouse during jury deliberation, as she probably has every single day for her entire career. A person’s life hangs in the balance but it’s also hanging during my cigarette break — ho hum. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.
We even learn the other men who are being transported to central booking before going to Riker’s Island — through ADR/off-screen dialogue — have all been there before. This overnight pitstop is just a part of the process.
What is a journey through all pathways one can find themselves inside of a courtroom is presented as mundane: just your normal everyday inconvenience, except in this world the inconvenience is a first-degree murder charge.
But not Naz. There has to be something to the fact that everything that happens to him is a surprise; absolutely nothing is routine for him here. He has spent zero time thinking about the future and all of his time trying to remember the past and what really happened the night of. That has to mean something… right?
- The friend who stared down Naz & Andrea just a second too long
- This creep, Don Taylor:
- This week’s Could be something, could be nothing: Box’s paperwork project:
- The hazy, fuzzy sounding dialogue in the opening, that’s new information; we have not heard this part of the conversation between Andrea and Naz previously. He’s remembering things.
- There is blood on the deer head. How did it get there? It can’t be from from Naz sprinting out of the house; that blood is on the railing. Perhaps from the knife game? Perhaps from Andrea and Naz hooking up mid-walk up the stairs?
- The forensic scientist at the scene of the crime mentions the cat to Det. Box. I’m telling you, the cat is more than a red herring — it’s Chekhov’s cat.
- There is a tremendous amount of blood splatter on the walls of Andrea’s room. There is no way Naz could have killed her based on the the splatter alone. Naz wouldn’t be absolutely covered in blood when he came to in the kitchen.
- Don Taylor (the stepdad) is no good. He is almost certainly hiding something or at the very least, he is withholding crucial pieces of evidence. This is explicitly shown when called to ID the body. As next of kin, it is his word that can put the part of the case to rest and he withholds it until he would have to be confronted with seeing the body itself. Even if he isn’t the killer (BUT HE DID JUST SHOOT THE TOP OF MY SUSPECTS LIST), he is a character whose very presence on screen is screaming out that he feels underappreciated for a bevy of reasons that double as motive.
- Also he lives in Queens and COULD HAVE TRANSPORTED THE CAT FROM MANHATTAN BACK TO HIS NEIGHBORHOOD WHICH ALSO JUST HAPPENS TO BE WHERE NAZ AND HIS FAMILY ARE FROM.
- I’m not letting this cat thing go.
|07.16.16 at 12:01 pm ET|
Paul McCartney is playing at Fenway Park on Sunday and to celebrate the occasion, we did the worst thing possible: We ranked Paul McCartney’s songs.
This is a very stupid exercise because Paul McCartney is the best pop songwriter ever. He’s churned out so many hits that there is no right or wrong answer as to what his best song is.
(Note: There actually is a wrong answer. If you think “Hey Jude” is his best song, you’re wrong. DJ here, by the way.)
Either way, Scott McLaughlin and I each came up with our own top 20 lists, a hard enough task (which can be seen below), and then negotiated to make WEEI’s Top 20 Paul McCartney Songs, a List for Which We Are Sorry:
20. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
The mixing of the “Let It Be” recordings were infamous for Paul’s disagreements with Phil Spector as to how his music should sound. During the recording of “Abbey Road,” the other Beatles dreaded work on songs like “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” The best thing about McCartney’s solo stuff is that he was left to his own devices, for better or for “Temporary Secretary.” Less than a year after the Beatles’ breakup, McCartney got a lot of his silliness out uninterrupted on “Ram” and this song in particular. -DJ
19. For No One
McCartney might be the best sad song writer ever, and “For No One” is a classic breakup song set to beautiful music. Alan Civil’s French horn solo is brilliant. -Scott
18. Live and Let Die
This is one of the best songs from McCartney’s post-Beatles career, and it’s easily the best-ever James Bond theme. The orchestral arrangement is outstanding, which shouldn’t be surprising since McCartney reunited with George Martin. “Live and Let Die” is also one of the top highlights of a McCartney concert. -Scott
17. Paperback Writer
Debating who the Beatles’ best songwriter was is fun, but the truth is it isn’t close. It’s Paul by a mile. Many of John Lennon’s (and some of George Harrison’s) were better than many of Paul’s, but here’s one of the many examples of how much better Paul was than the others: When the Beatles needed to release a single while working on “Revolver,” John came up with “Rain.” Paul came up with this. -DJ
The fact that this is what came out after McCartney tried to learn Bach says all you need to know. -DJ
15. Helter Skelter
It will never cease to amaze me that McCartney just heard Pete Townshend talking about loud, dirty music, decided he wanted to make a song like that, and proceeded to make one as great — and as loud and dirty — as “Helter Skelter,” which can accurately be called one of the first heavy metal songs. -Scott
14. Eleanor Rigby
McCartney makes a song about loneliness and death without any of The Beatles playing an instrument on it, and it still becomes a hit. One of George Martin’s best string arrangements. -Scott
13. I’m Down
As this list progresses you’ll find that I’m a fan of the Paul screamers, and though his best screamers came in the late 60s, this helped pave the way. A pretty straightforward rock song that falls in line with their earlier stuff, it’s insane to think that they made “Rubber Soul” just four months after recording this. -DJ
12. I’ve Just Seen a Face
“Help!” was an album mostly filled with sad (but still great) songs, but “I’ve Just Seen a Face” stands out as one of the happiest, most upbeat songs in The Beatles’ catalogue. Also, fun fact: “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Yesterday” and “I’m Down” were all recorded in the same session, which is about as good a recording session as anyone’s ever had. -Scott
11. Maybe I’m Amazed
The Beatles were guilty of committing some cliche key changes (looking at you, “Penny Lane”), but McCartney knew how to modulate the cool way: from one section to another and back. In perhaps his best post-Beatles love song, McCartney changes keys from the intro to the verse to the chorus throughout the song. Also, he screams. -DJ
10. Too Many People
Perhaps lost in the ex-bandmates using their solo work to snipe at each other: Some of those songs were truly great. Though the best Beatle-on-Beatle crimes were actually committed by Harrison (“Wah-Wah,” “Isn’t It A Pity” to a degree), this shot at John and Yoko was easily one of McCartney’s best post-Beatles songs, from the wonderfully sticky acoustic guitar to the pointed lyrics. -DJ
9. All My Loving
There are certain songs I like to describe as “perfect pop songs” and this is one of them. Lennon’s guitar is excellent and the moment when the harmony kicks in on the third verse (Paul sang it himself) is one of my favorite moments in any Beatles song. -Scott
8. I’ve Got a Feeling
Tragically left off this list is “Let Me Roll It,” but this is another one with a simple-yet-outstanding riff. Recorded the same year as “Oh! Darling,” this was peak Screaming Paul. -DJ
7. Let It Be
“Let It Be” is one of The Beatles’ most peaceful, soothing songs, which is ironic since it was recorded during the tumultuous time when they were well on their way to breaking up. I go back and forth between which version I like more — the single version with the smooth guitar or the album version with the crunchier guitar. -Scott
6. I’m Looking Through You
From one year to the next, the Beatles found that acoustic guitar and lap percussion — the same combination that logically served a ballad in “I’ll Follow the Sun” — could also deliver an outstanding rock song. The hero of this one isn’t Ringo’s organ in the chorus, but the tambourine that accompanies it. -DJ
5. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
We debated whether it was cheating to combine these three into one entry, but they obviously fit together and they’re often played together, whether on radio or in McCartney’s live performances. These three make for an amazing finish to the Abbey Road medley, highlighted by McCartney’s vocals on “Golden Slumbers,” the “You Never Give Me Your Money” reprise on “Carry That Weight,” and the drum and guitar solos on “The End.” -Scott
4. Hey Jude
Everything about how “Hey Jude” builds is perfect. It goes from just McCartney and his piano to start, to more instruments joining throughout the first half of the song, to the climactic transition from the verses to the “Na-na-na-na” coda. Then during the coda itself, you get a 36-piece orchestra and McCartney going crazy with his descant. Also, shouts to everyone responsible for leaving in the “Oh, [expletive] hell” you hear just before the three-minute mark. -Scott
3. Band on the Run
McCartney owned pop, but he only played by its rules when he wanted to. Though he could be nostalgic and/or stick to basic structure (particularly when dipping into other genres, such as in “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”), McCartney often threw out the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus playbook. As he aged into his late 20s, McCartney unapologetically mashed bits and pieces of songs together, resulting in sharp turns and melodic abandonment not commonly found in pop. This is perhaps the best (though not greatest; see No. 1) example, and each of the three sections are outstanding in their own right.
The best part is that despite the sections not having much in common melodically, he is still able to use the vocal to build, going from the murmur of “stuck inside these four walls” to the double-tracked “If I ever get out of here” and finally the magnificently spacey “Well the rain exploded with a mighty crash.” -DJ
It’s the best breakup song ever made, and there have been lots of great breakup songs. “Yesterday” is essentially a McCartney solo song (he’s the only Beatle on it), but George Martin deserves major props for pushing the idea of using a string quartet, something The Beatles hadn’t done before. -Scott
1. You Never Give Me Your Money
This is the aforementioned melodic abandonment at its finest, easily surpassing Lennon’s “Happiness is a Warm Gun” as the best Beatles song to embrace such herky-jerky structure. Where Lennon often called for effects to alter his voice, McCartney loved deploying different characters and voices throughout songs, a move of which Billy Joel would eventually make a career. Screaming Paul makes an appearance at the end and the nursery rhyme bit is an “Abbey Road” highlight, but the combination of tack piano (which actually isn’t even tack piano) and Paul’s mock-baritone in the “Out of college” section is the true winner. That mock baritone can be found time and again in Paul’s work; it’s sneaky good on the harmonies during the second verse of “Too Many People.” -DJ
|07.15.16 at 2:17 pm ET|
It’s been rumored for a few years that Eminem will release a new album in 2016. Now we’re halfway through 2016 and he has yet to deliver, so fans are speculating as to why.
The most recent rumors suggest we’re still waiting because Eminem is bankrupt. This is highly unlikely and I’m here to quash that rumor right now.
First of all, Marshall Mathers has too many business ventures going to be out of money. The Detroit native recently partnered with StockX, an online marketplace based in his hometown. He is using this site to sell sneakers because, besides rapping, sneakers are his biggest passion. He also released a mobile game last year called “Shady Wars,” which even I will admit is stupid, but it’s making him money and helping to keep his net worth at an estimated $190 million.
Second, knowing Marshall as I do, I doubt he would let himself go bankrupt like his protégé 50 Cent.
Eminem is way too responsible for that. Since he almost died of a pill overdose in 2007, he stopped doing drugs, has a new outlook on life and started running and taking care of himself. Unwise investments and lavish spending don’t seem to fit into his level-headed lifestyle in recovery. So he’s not bankrupt, he’s just busy.
And it doesn’t really matter whether or not he releases a new album anyway because nothing he does will ever be better than The Marshall Mathers LP. But if someone tries to tell you Eminem has no money and is struggling to keep his career afloat, don’t believe it. Plus, the year isn’t over yet so he still has plenty of time. So everybody relax and listen to this. It’s life-changing.