Sunday, June 28, 2015

One-Mind Tracks: Creepy Age Gap

Rock songs have a storied history of some super creepy references to enjoying the company of people much different ages than the singer. Below are just a few of those tracks.

"Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry
Long before Ted Nugent was being creepy with "Jailbait," etc., Chuck Berry was singing the praises of sixteen year olds. Which would have been way less creepy had he not been arrested for transporting a minor across state lines for allegedly "immoral purposes."

"Younger Girl" by The Lovin' Spoonful
Much as The Beach Boys would steal "Sweet Little Sixteen" for "Surfin' U.S.A.," "Younger Girl" is an uncredited adaptation of "Prison Wall Blues" (by Cannon's Jug Stompers). This creepy piece found its way onto the very first Lovin' Spoonful album.

"Outside Villanova" by Eric Hutchinson
What is there to say about this song that it doesn't say itself in "she's getting older and legal soon" and "some girl that I'd be forgetting by the time the cops came by that afternoon"?

"Lolita" by Miniature Tigers

Loosely based on the most creepy age gap story of all time: Lolita, this track seems to be based more on the 1997 film than the book, but it can't be left off of the playlist.

"I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles
No, I don't know what you mean about her being seventeen. Please elaborate. Okay, so in it's original context, there's nothing wrong with this song, since Paul McCartney was around that age when he wrote it. But I really don't enjoy hearing men 25+ asking me if I know what they mean about the underage girl they saw standing there.

"You're Sixteen (You're Beautiful And You're Mine)" by Ringo Starr
Speaking of which, why Ringo? I understand that this song is a classic written by The Sherman Brothers (the Mary Poppins guys) and originally recorded by Johnny Burnette when he was 26. No one was anywhere near sixteen when this song was written and recorded. But still, Ringo was thirty-three when he recorded it. Ick.

"Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap
Gary Puckett sings this song about a man who decides to blame this girl for seducing him despite her age, although it's still pretty obvious that they were lovers. Let's just hope composer Jerry Fuller didn't write it from experience.

"The Man With The Child In His Eyes" by Kate Bush

As with many songs by Kate Bush, the exact meaning of this song was unclear for years. In 2010 however, it was revealed that it was (at least in part) about her relationship with Steve Blacknell, a man six years her senior (they dated when she was around seventeen), that she evidently saw childlike qualities in.

"Don't Stand So Close To Me" by The Police

All I can say is, it's a lucky thing Sting had The Police on his side when he wrote this song about a young teacher's inappropriate relationship with a student. Ecspecially seeing as he was a young teacher before the band took off. He even name checks Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita. Yikes.

"My Sharona" by The Knack
Doug Fieger met a girl named Sharona Alperin when he was 25 and she was 17. After a year of courtship (and getting rid of his girlfriend and her boyfriend), the duo dated for four years. In the first few months of knowing her, he was inspired to write many songs and to "get it up for the touch of the younger kind." Bandmate Berton Averre didn't want to use Sharona's real name, but Fieger insisted that he wanted it to relay exactly how he felt.

"Maggie May" by Rod Stewart
Alright, here's a song that's pretty much the opposite of every other song on the list. Instead of a creepy older dude, it's a creepy older woman seducing a young schoolboy Rod Stewart who is also narrating the song. According to Stewart, "Maggie May" was based on the real woman he lost his virginity to.

"She Doesn't Get It" by The Format
The main focus of this song seems to be the fact that the guy has an emotionally difficult time having a one-night stand, but why is "New Religion" familiar to the narrator and yet long before the girl was born? Granted, lead singer Nate Ruess was born the same year that song came out, so it's probably more of a cultural thing.

"Sweet Young Thing" by The Monkees
This one isn't that creepy...well, he's yielding before the wisdom of a "child." But there are definitely creepier songs than this Carole King, Gerry Goffin, and Michael Nesmith-penned piece. Still, the narrator is way too obsessed with the "Sweet Young Thing."

"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" by Neil Diamond
Should we worry about the fact that Gary Puckett also did a cover of this song? Neil Diamond wrote it to his young fans, but something seems a little off about the sentiment to me.

"Infant Kiss" by Kate Bush
Award for creepiest song goes right here. Kate Bush wrote this song based on the movie The Innocents. In the film, a young governess is putting a child to bed and he kisses her passionately because he's possessed by the spirit of a man who haunts the house.

Find them all below:

Know any more songs about a creepy age gap? Tell me what they are in the comments.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Separated at Birth: 3 Videos Set in Crowded Diners,

Full disclosure: I know this isn't actually the same set or real diner or whatever. My point is more along the lines of "wow, three different people in less than ten years decided to set their videos in little, cramped fifties-style diners with an almost-identical layout."

First, in 2003, the artist Kelis named her album Tasty, so a Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo composition was brought to life. "Milkshake" has since become something of a legend because of the ambiguity of what "Milkshake" is in the song. The video looks something like this:

So technically, "Tasty's Yard" is the location in which "Milkshake" is set, but it's just a diner that looks very small and crowded, yet still pretty cozy. It's rumoured to have been shot at "Relish" in Brooklyn.

In 2007, Sean Kingston sampled Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" for his breakout hit "Beautiful Girls." He also sampled the idea of a packed, tiny diner in the video.

Now Kingston's diner is definitely not the same one. It's an abandoned restaurant in Hollywood called "Johnie's." And in fact, not only was it a setting in The Big Lebowski, but it's been used in several other music videos which make it look totally different. Tom Petty and Reba McEntire have both shot in this quaint location [source], so really that could have been the three videos covered here. Except McEntire and Petty's videos both make the space look larger. Petty utilizes the space as a full restaurant and McEntire's use makes it look fairly desolate. Kingston and Kelis both have the same central idea with theirs.

Fast forward three years to 2010, when Cee Lo Green works with several other composers including Bruno Mars to make a song that quickly made its rounds on the internet. The radio-appropriate title is "Forget You" and the video was set in...a congested diner!

Green has stated that "Forget You" is actually a message to the music industry rather than a woman who spurned him, but the video is very like Kingston's not only in setting, but in the flashbacks to a former era mixed with present day Green. Green's video was filmed at Cadillac Jack's, a diner in Sun Valley that was also a location in Grease 2.

So while there's no actual link between these three videos (different directors and everything), all three shooting locations are utilized in very much a similar way, with the camera following in the entrance, the bar staying on the left hand side and the booths on the right. Obviously they weren't really filmed in the same spots, and they had different directors, but these videos share some obvious central ideas.

Stay tuned for more musical artifacts that were separated at birth.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Album Review: The High Country by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

The musical journey of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin continues in The High Country, an album some say is the culmination of all previous works. The High Country remains unafraid of being poppy, but in this case, it's much closer to noise-pop than the polished indie pop the band generally exudes. The goal was to bring the album closer to the energy of the band's live shows, and it definitely has made this soft-voiced band turn a corner.

From the fore, the new approach is presented on "Line on You," which is still very congruent with their previous work, just with more feedback. The pop-riddled "Step Brother City" has something of a Strokes sound to it, but with the usual aspects of an SSLYBY song: the melodic howls and gentle vocals, and the occasional sprinkling of cutesy lyrics such as "all the good songs and poems are all about you//and all the bad ones too." That particular blend of sounds continues with "Goal Mind," which you could easily imagine Julian Casablancas scream-singing on- but that's not the resulting sound at all. 

Next, "Full Possession of All Her Powers" reminds us what SSLYBY have a talent for: lilting power pop with the shy indie twist. "Full Possession of All Her Powers" is easily one of the best songs on the album, telling the tale of a confident but flawed woman and the man with a crush on her, in a very upbeat manner. It gives way to the pleading "Madeline," the slowest and most tender track on the album, with a Simon and Garfunkel quality.

This album was built for vinyl, something few albums do these days. Not only are the liner notes clearly designed to be a sleeve or vinyl insert based on the layout, but "Madeline" ends side A and the grumbling "What I Won" picks up side B. I rarely make first-time album purchases on vinyl because I feel like vinyl is more of a commitment, but seeing the care they put into making "Madeline" the soft end of side A and "What I Won" an intro to side B, I really wish I'd gotten the vinyl instead. "What I Won" has more of the gravelly guitar sound the band promised on "Line on You," as well as an even more noise-pop style mumbled lyrics. "Trevor Forever" is loud and proud and more punk than anything you'd expect from the rest of the album. That is, unless you count the guitars on "Song Will," which come off as pretty rough (in the good way).

"Foreign Future" and "Magnet's New Summer 'Do" are both straight out of the SSLYBY handbook, with their signature guitars very much at the front of the stage. 

Finally, "Total Meltdown" brings everything together: the feedback, the soft vocals (but this time with audible lyrics, which wasn't a given on every song on The High Country), the SSLYBY guitar, the well-thought arrangement of lyrics, powerpop and just a dash of punk. "Total Meltdown" is very bright, with the line "I'm not afraid" being the mantra of the piece. As it fades out, one can't help but feel both satisfied by the album and hungry for more. 

SSLYBY have come a long way from 2005's Broom. Their sound is miles more refined and their album layout is impeccable. A part of me was afraid they would lose the sincerity of the earlier albums, but the sincerity is ever-present. Tracks like "Madeline" aren't being produced by anyone else. I also feared they'd begin to lose the catchiness they had with tracks on Pershing, but "Full Possession of All Her Powers" is just one catchy tune on the album. Really, there's nothing to fear with The High Country. After listening to it, much like the narrator of "Total Meltdown," "I'm not afraid."

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin are an indie pop band from Springfield, Missouri.

The High Country is out June 2nd and can be purchased here.