Posts Tagged 'Metallica'

What I’m Hearing, Vol. 15

{for last month’s What I’m Hearing, click here}

July’s iPod update was an extremely diverse one, not just for the artists, but for the songs themselves. Taking a new tact, I made July an all mash-up month, checking out some of the ways in which DJs have started taking on the mix and match genre full-throttle. While Danger Mouse helped pioneer it with the Grey Album and AmpLive took it another step with his remixes of Radiohead’s In Rainbows, the mash-up culture is far past those now. But while there is much to be said for the style of Girl Talk where there are more layers than you can reasonably dissect in a listening, I find the club mash-ups utilizing 2 to 3 songs to be a most effective use of the genre. The best news? As all of these are off the grid, they’re all available for download, so follow the links to check the music out for yourself. July’s iPod update included 118 songs.

50 Cent vs. The 50s, DJ Doc Rok: Currently residing in Washington, D.C., DJ Doc Rok’s ( work is among the strongest of all artists I heard this month. What’s more is that while he does have a collection of odd mash-ups and various artists, he also sets out to create complete albums of one to two artists. On this album, Rok focuses on all lyrics from 50 Cent songs and combines them with Golden Oldie hits from the R&B and Pop genres. The result? 50 Cent party songs with a touch of flair, moved out of the straight club motif that dominates so many of his songs and saturated with style and soul. Using songs like Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and Booker T. and the MG’s “Green Onions,” Rok flips the 50 acapellas on their head with fantastic result. Definitely my favorite download of the month. Don’t Sleep On: “Rowdy Rowdy/It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To),” “Like My Style/One Fine Day,” and “The Good Die Young/Little Susie.”

Best of 2007 (Mash-Up Your Bootz), Various Artists: If you’re looking for a comprehensive blog that provides a vast cross-section of the variety of mash-ups available online, check out Mash-up Your Bootz. They provide comprehensive year-end wrap-up mixes, links to other mash-up sites, and breaking news in the genre. I downloaded both their 2007 and 2008 Best of Mixes and wasn’t disappointed with either. Beck takes on Green Day, AC/DC meets 50 Cent and the Scissor Sisters, Peggy Lee and Iggy Pop collide and Peter Bjorn and John find their whistle backing both Bloc Party and Amy Winehouse. Some of the mashers on this mix include DJ Peaking, DJ Le Clown, CheekyBoy, DJ Lobsterdust, and Party Ben. Perhaps the most pleasant track is by Norwegian Recycling who put together a very simple acoustic mash-up called “How Six Songs Collide” featuring Jason Mraz, Howie Day, Five For Fighting, Angela Ammons, Boyzone, and 3 Doors Down. This one is mirrored nicely with the eerie and melancholy mash of Placebo, Kate Bush and the Pet Shop Boys called, “Love Comes Running Up That Hill Quickly.” Don’t Sleep On: “Young Folks Rehab” by DJ Topcat (Amy Winehouse’s v. Peter Bjorn and John), “Love Comes Running Up That Hill Quickly” by DJ Magnet (Pet Shop Boys v. Placebo v. Kate Bush) and “Break Through Love” by DJ Zebra (The Doors v. Led Zeppelin)

Best of 2008 (Mash-Up Your Bootz), Various Artists: The 2008 mix picks up where 2007 left off and offers an impressive array of very different artists finding their songs blended with people of opposite genres. The album kicks off with Bryan Adams going head to head with Metallica, James Brown duels The Offspring, and Rage Against the Machine gets thrown together with AC/DC, Joan Jett, Queen and Red Hot Chili Peppers. To say that these songs stretch the concept of mashable genres is an understatement. Contributors include Wax Audio, MadMixMustang, DJ Morgoth and Divide and Kreate. Best track has to come when DJ Schmolli brings the haunting guitar lilt of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” and fills it with a slowed down Billy Idol singing “White Wedding.” The result is astounding. Don’t Sleep On: “Wicked Wedding” by DJ Schmolli (Chris Isaak v. Billy Idol v. HIM) “The Low Anthem” by Bass 211 (Flo Rida v. Pitbull) and “Dance Dreams” by Divide and Kreate (Eurythmics v. Lady Gaga)

Michael Jackson: With the unfortunate and untimely death of Michael Jackson last month, I decided to go back and flesh out my Jackson music collection. Sure, I had Thriller and parts of Bad, but I was still missing a large chunk of music from the Jackson 5 days as well as the tracks he did as part of The Jacksons. In all of these outings, Michael’s voice is distinct and easy to pick out, and his energy serves to carry most of the songs. So if you’re looking for some tracks you may not have heard, Don’t Sleep On: “Too Late to Change the Time,” (Jackson 5) “State of Shock,” (The Jacksons) “Another Part of Me” (Michael Jackson)

Jay-Z vs. Led Zeppelin, DJ Doc Rok: By taking the lyrics from Jay-Z’s soundtrack to American Gangster and mashing them with various Led Zeppelin songs, Doc Rok succeeds again in creating an album that can stand on its own. Darker and more subdued than the 50 Cent album, this outing utilizes Zeppelin songs like “Immigrant,” “No Quarter,” “Tangerine,” and “Kashmir.” The result is a new way to think of Jay-Z, liberated from much of the standard hip-hop and rap tracks he’s been tied to, the guitars and gritty classic Rock from Led Zeppelin provide a new canvas which comes off fresh. Don’t Sleep On: “Success/Moby Dick,” “Party Life/I’m Gonna Leave You,” “No Hook/Tangerine”

Party Vol. 25 (Mash-Up Your Bootz), Various Artists: Where the 2007 and 2008 span every genre, what you find most on this party album are mashes primarily utilizing hip-hop, dance and rock. DJ Lobsterdust brings The Police and Coldplay together while DJ BC brings together George Harrison, L’il Kim and Notorious B.I.G. The nice part of this album is that all of it is danceable and will appeal to most anyone on the dance floor. When Gloria Gaynor and Fall Out Boy meet each other at the hands of Mighty Mike, just about anything is possible. Don’t Sleep On: “Get the Day ‘n’Night Started” by Pheugoo (Pink v. Kid Cudi), “Beautiful Journey” by DJ MashUP (Journey v. Akon) and “Lady and the Usher” by Divide and Kreate (Usher v. Ladyhawke)


Music Builds Bridges

Over here, we like it when things are thrown together and stirred around for a new outcome. And nothing says “mix and match” like the annual Bridge School Benefit held every year at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. Started by Neil Young as a fundraiser for the Bridge School, a school focusing on the education of children with very specific needs, the benefit is always one of the highlights of the concert season. Because of several of the basic principles of the Bridge School and the benefit, the event always turns into a sharing and communal concert celebrating life, happiness and the pursuit of education.

As for the mixing and matching…take multiple well-known and wealthy musical artists. Sprinkle in some lesser known artists that deserve some spotlight. The resulting line-up always covers an incredible spectrum of genres, and as a result, brings in one of the most diverse and eclectic concert going crowds you might ever see. Then, you make all of the artists, even those known for rocking hard, switch to acoustic for the event. Finally, you have all of these musicians and music fans coming together to support and donate to children that, for the most part, they could never imagine being in the shoes of.

So just how diverse are the musicians? This year’s show featured Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, My Morning Jacket, John Mayer, Tom Waits with the Kronos Quartet, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis and Metallica. Yes, Metallica, at an acoustic show.

I missed Regina Spektor’s set.

But we’re there in time for Tegan and Sara, which was one of the groups I was interested in seeing. Virtual nobodies before and now starting to bud on the national music scene, Tegan and Sara is one of those groups that got sprinkled into the Bridge School Benefit of 2000, which is where I first heard of them. Scared little children on a stage, they still put on a duo acoustic set that prompted me to download their music and get into them. Now, 7 years later, here we both were at completely different parts in our lives. I’m in the middle of telling some people, “I saw them for the first time when they played Bridge School,” when they tell the crowd, “the first time we came here, it was for Bridge School and we were 19.” It was nice to see them make their Bridge School return, now quite a bit more mature, with a band backing them, and a second cd to draw music from. They bicker on stage a bit, but I believe they do this to entertain the audience, although, sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing as you end up feeling that you’ve walked into a private family meeting. The highlights of their set are “I was 19,” “Like O, Like H,” and “Back In Your Head.”

Eddie Vedder and Flea were supposed to play after Tegan and Sara, but due to personal problems of Vedder’s, they had to cancel and were replaced by My Morning Jacket. I have never heard of this group before, and if the set they put together yesterday was any indication, I never want to again.

John Mayer, at least in my personal opinion, falls into that annoying category of singer/songwriters that succeed due to mass marketing, cheesy songs, romantic expectations and a sound simple enough that the general public goes, “oooh, this is really good!” Someone tried to compare Mayer with Dave Matthews at one point, and I almost threw that someone off a balcony. The lyrical depth isn’t even close. The guy that sings the “Had a Bad Day” song, John Mayer and Jack Johnson should get together to form a pop sensation super band in which all 102 songs of their catalogue sound vaguely similar and they go quadruple platinum because of how easily digestible their music is to the public. But hey…that’s just my opinion, right?

For the set, it’s Mayer and two other guitarists. Mayer comes out trying to act very relaxed and nonchalant, sits down on a stool, gives a raspy “How you doing out there?” to his female admirers, and proceeds with a set that sounds like a frat boy playing guitar in the middle of campus hoping to get noticed, if not laid. He pulls out the same raspy voice on the majority of his vocals, I can’t tell the difference between the songs other than slight tempo changes, and while they try to disguise it with tricky camera work, every guitar solo of even remote musical complexity is done not by Mayer, but by one of the other two guys on the stage with him. I’m about to give up the set as a complete washout when he closes it by covering “Free Fallin.” It’s a nice touch, but he comes dangerously close to screwing this hallowed classic up by failing to sing the chorus with anything remotely resembling Petty’s range and energy. If you ever want to listen to John Mayer, I suggest going down to your local campus and looking for a guy playing guitar…he may not be as well known, but hey, he could be the next John Mayer, and if not, he’s certainly more affordable to see in concert.

Following Mayer we have Neil Young. First off, you can’t say anything negative about his set because he puts on the event, his songs are as old as the Amphitheater itself, and he’s always Neil. You can’t say much positive though because bands have a tendency to lose their effect after multiple shows. Neil plays at every Bridge School, so I think I’ve probably seen him 8 or 9 times now. He’s solid, and you have to give him one thing…he’s extremely consistent. The only thing he didn’t break out last night was the big stand-up organ I’ve seen him use from time to time, but this is probably due to the fact that he usually closes the show and this time went in the middle of the sets. I don’t recognize any of the songs, but at the end he tells the crowd that it’s mostly new material and he doesn’t expect anyone to have recognized any of it.

Next up is one of the primary reasons I bought tickets for this Bridge School, and the performance of Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet delivers. For those of you who don’t know the Kronos Quartet, they’re the group that performed Clint Mansell’s arrangements for Darren Arronofsky’s movie Requiem for a Dream based on Hubert Selby’s book. But when you mix a legendary, eccentric and out there rocker like Tom Waits with an incredibly proficient and polished string quartet like Kronos, the outcome is something spectacular. I’d almost want to dub this Chamber Rock. They come out and open with the theme song from HBO’s The Wire, which is stellar. He also plays some old time blues songs with the Quartet behind him straying into some dark and menacing arrangements. He plays a variety of songs with completely different sounds. One sounds like a Gotan tango song laced with arsenic, and one takes on the style of a macabre show tune. There aren’t a whole lot of succinct words to describe this performance, but it was one of the more interesting musical collaborations I’ve seen and ranked right up there with last year’s Trent Reznor/string quartet performance (although Trent didn’t use Kronos, so he loses some points there). After Waits leaves, I feel like the energy in the place is knocked up a few notches, and I’m wondering if they can bring him out for another set.

Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the other main reasons I bought tickets for this show. He’s one of the few truly incredible icons and musical prodigies that I had yet to see in concert. He comes out with a slower walk, a pair of glasses, long hair slicked back off his forehead and sits down at the piano. Now, he’s older, so you can tell his fingers can’t take the speed and ferocity he used to be known for, but he’s still a master musician. He comes out playing old hits and most everyone in the audience is moving with him. He at points lapses into a deep Southern twang, and almost consistently refers to himself in songs as “Jerry Lee.” He can’t dance at the piano like he used to, but the voice in his songs and the way he attacks the piano give you a clear idea of who he used to be as a performer, and just how much, even this late in life, is still there for him. His set is remarkable, and in conjunction with Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet, the price of the ticket is well justified. The highlights of his set include “Roll Over Beethoven,” “You Win Again” (Hank Williams cover), “Your Cheating Heart,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.”

After Lewis finishes up, Metallica comes out to close the show. They, like Tegan and Sara, have made two Bridge School appearances, and I’ve been lucky enough to be at both. They came out and played 5 covers and 3 originals. Thanks to KFer (not KFed!) for the info…They started with “I Just Want to Celebrate” (ironically used in the final episode of 6 Feet Under, making this an evening where two tracks from HBO series were played) then played Nazareth’s “Please Don’t Judas Me.” Personally, I found it excellent and amazing when they covered Garbage’s “I’m Only Happy When It Rains,” right before Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms.” Following this, they went into “Disposable Heroes,” “All Within My Hands,” and Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” before closing their set and the show with “Nothing Else Matters.”

All in all, it wasn’t the most impressive Bridge line-up I’ve ever seen…My Morning Jacket and John Mayer could have definitely been left off the guest list. But seeing Metallica acoustically, Jerry Lee Lewis for the first time and the unreal performance of Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet made this a very successful, diverse and memorable Bridge School Benefit. See y’all next year.

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