Michael Nelson
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In this era of Instagram, we all know just how easy it is to crop the hell out of a picture to remove from the fringes all unwanted detritus (i.e., our friends) and maximize the attractiveness of the image’s primary subject (i.e., ourself). But back in the day you needed a degree in graphic design and $10,000 worth of equipment to even consider such wizardry! Which is probably why we simply accept classic album covers as contained universes, never really considering the broader context in which those images were captured. But not anymore! British design agency Aptitude has taken a handful of album covers and graphically extrapolated what was going on beyond the borders of those images as they were initially presented to the world. Yes, some of them are fanciful, but I’m pretty sure that Adele cover is just about 100% accurate. Check out a few of them in the gallery above, and go here for the full set.

I love Led Zeppelin, but I’d say there’s a good third of their catalog that I can’t hear anymore. I don’t mean I don’t want to listen to it; I mean I cannot hear it — I’ve heard it so much that it’s just white noise, like the sounds of midtown traffic outside Stereogum’s offices. And for me, no song has been worn thinner than “Rock And Roll,” from “Led Zep IV,” which might as well be “Happy Birthday” by this point. So I love hearing alternate versions of these tracks, because if even one aspect of the mix is different, it can change my entire listening experience. Next Monday, Zep will release re-mastered, expanded versions of both “IV” and Houses Of The Holy, and those reissues will include a bunch of alternate takes, including this one, of “Rock And Roll.” Frankly, this take hews too close to the album version to actually reinvigorate the song for me, but according to Pagey, it offers a “different perspective.” Read his explanation and watch the lyric video for the track below.

Johnny Marr just released a new album, Playland, and Noel Gallagher just announced that he’s got a new album due out in March 2015, Chasing Yesterday, on which Marr will appear. So it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Noel showed up at London’s Brixton Academy to join Marr onstage for a pair of songs: covers of Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life,” and the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now.” I’ve long been harboring an idle observation that Noel and Marr are physically morphing into two separate versions of the same exact person, the way old married couples do, and seeing them on stage together does little to dispute this observation. I like to imagine them sitting back with a cup of tea and bitching about their respective exes (ex-singers, I mean). “Thank god we don’t have to deal with all that anymore,” they must say. It must be nice. Anyway, you can watch footage of both “Lust For Life” and “How Soon Is Now” below.


 +1Posted on Oct 21st | re: Cult Of Fire - "Vltava" (4 comments)

Oh wow, I think you might be right. Maybe it’s not a cover per se but elements of Smetana’s composition are certainly in this one.

Good ear! The other song on the EP is called “Váh,” and I can’t find a song matching that name in relation to Smetana, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that too borrowed from/updated/paid homage to his work.

 +1Posted on Oct 17th | re: Foo Fighters - "Something From Nothing" (56 comments)

That’s actually a good point! FWIW, I’m not sure if Albini played ANY role here — as I said in the post, it was recorded at EA; Albini could have just unlocked the doors and turned on the lights and then sat in his office playing online poker for the next few hours/days while the meter was running.

 +4Posted on Oct 16th | re: Foo Fighters - "Something From Nothing" (56 comments)

Nah, I meant “preceding,” like: the s/t was really ambitious relative to what preceded it, because in Grohl’s career preceding that record, he was just Nirvana’s drummer: That record is pretty much PURE ambition, because before that, there was nothing. It is 100% more ambitious than what preceded it. The Colour And The Shape is super ambitious, because before that, Foo Fighters were just something Grohl was recording by himself in his house, and now, he was making these glossy, forceful, arena-sized anthems. It is, let’s say, 65% more ambitious than what preceded it. Since then it’s been diminishing returns — with each album maybe 10% more or less ambitious than the one that preceded it. Right? Or am I wrong?

 +5Posted on Oct 16th | re: Foo Fighters - "Something From Nothing" (56 comments)

I considered In Your Honor but to me that structure seems like more of a gimmick than a huge ambitious leap, whereas the first album was a work of pretty fearless ambition, and the second one is such an enormous advancement on that. I feel like everything since The Colour And The Shape has actually been a little conservative and almost un-ambitious, musically speaking.

Yeah they released the song(s) in 2012 actually. You are right about VV on all dates, not sure how that got messed up, but I have amended it. Thanks!

Whoops, Sad Reminders commenter DonaldDuckKooKim pointed out an error in my text above: Mark Kozelek refers to the Sad Reminders commenters as “Sad Whiners,” not “Sad Bastards.” Sorry!

 +2Posted on Oct 8th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - September 2014 (59 comments)

Oh no worries, I didn’t mean to get all pedantic on you, I just have this whole complicated idea about Burzum that I’ve never written out anywhere but at its essence is the belief that all his shit is tangled up with all his other shit.

 +1Posted on Oct 8th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - September 2014 (59 comments)

That might be something Brandon wrote. I’ve never really written anything on Burzum here (outside of discussing his place and role in history). My feelings about the intersection of Burzum’s music and Varg’s extramusical life are a little different, and I don’t think I’ve ever really written about them anywhere. (I’d be happy to do so, there just hasn’t been an opportunity/news peg/demand for such a piece.)

 +1Posted on Oct 7th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - September 2014 (59 comments)

Well he clarified to say that for him Satan was a symbol for “freedom.” Gaahl also spent nine months in prison for “assaulting and torturing a man for six hours while collecting his blood into a cup and threatening to make him drink it.” He’s not just playing the part.

 +4Posted on Oct 7th | re: Mark Kozelek, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down (120 comments)

Guys, a lot of you had nice things to say about this story, and I want you to know I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks!

Since I’m here, I’ll add a couple footnote-y type things:

1. I probably should have included this in the piece, but it totally slipped my mind till this morning: I don’t know if you’d say Koz has a history of smacking down other artists from the stage, but I’ve seen him do it before. First time I saw him, spring/summer 1995 at NYC’s Fez Under Time Cafe, he said some nasty stuff about the band Spain (who played a style of music similar — and vastly inferior, IMO — to Red House Painters back then; the two bands were routinely name-checked together in reviews). At that same show, he also kind of dismissed the English depressive folk singer Nick Drake, who was often assumed to be an influence on Koz. I remember this one verbatim (because it rattled around my head for so long): “Fuck Nick Drake. I fuckin’ hate Nick Drake.” (I don’t know if he’d ever heard Nick Drake, I think he just hated the comparison.)

2. I mentioned that Spin review of “Rollercoaster,” written by Jim Greer, and while this is a total tangent, I wanted to give a shout to Greer. In the early-mid ’90s, he was one of the stars of Spin Magazine, and his work there pretty much singlehandedly changed the course of my life and convinced me to pursue this line of work. At the time, he was engaged to Kim Deal, playing bass with Guided By Voices, and doing all sorts of awesome writing about music, including a really cool series called “A Year In The Life Of Rock & Roll,” which I read devotionally every month. So the dude not only introduced me to my favorite band, but my career. And I totally love my job but I gotta say it has NEVER ONCE been as sexy or exciting as he made it seem. After college I got an internship at Rolling Stone, and I was telling my editor/supervisor about all my favorite music writers. I went down the list of 6 or 7 obvious names (Xgau, Ellen Willis, etc.) and included Greer among them. My editor/supervisor was like, “Those are all great critics! Except Jim Greer. He’s terrible.” I still disagree.