Thursday, April 28, 2022

One-Mind Tracks: April Showers

This year's spring has been cold and rainy (with a few sunny, warm days sprinkled in). This week looks like it's going to stay warm and sunny but we do have to celebrate all that rain with a rainy playlist (that will hopefully lead to May Flowers...and like...crops...).

"Rainy Days and Mondays" by The Carpenters
Paul Williams and Roger Nichols wrote this rainy day sad song which came from a very personal place for Williams. He was hoping to have his Hollywood career take off so he could take care of his mother, but he continued to struggle. Luckily, 1971 saw this song reach #2 for The Carpenters and his acting career began soon after. Another song you might know that Williams co-wrote?: "Rainbow Connection!" It just goes to show you that rainbows really do come after the rain.

"Africa" by Toto
David Paich had never been to Africa when he wrote the song. He based the depictions of Africa on National Geographic articles. Yet somehow he was able to capture "the rains down in Africa" with such poetic language that we can all almost imagine ourselves being there. "Africa" became Toto's only #1 in the U.S.

"It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls
A novelty track with lasting impact, "It's Raining Men" was written by Paul Jabara and Paul Schaffer. It was originally intended for Donna Summer, who turned it down because she felt in conflicted with her faith. Diana Ross, Cher, and Barbara Streisand were also offered the song, but declined it. Several years later, in 1982, the song was offered to the duo Two Tons, who were also skeptical. Jabara's persistence with Two Tons finally resulted in a recording. After the song was successful, the duo even changed their name to The Weather Girls to make it less confusing for listeners who thought they were introducing the band name at the beginning of the song.

"Riders on the Storm" by The Doors
I don't know if I can honestly think of a better song to represent a dark, rainy night. The Doors came up with "Riders on the Storm" during a jam session in which the springboard was "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Morrison put many elements of his personal life into the song, including his experience hitchhiking as a teen. "Riders on the Storm" was the final song recorded by Jim Morrison before his death.

"Fool in the Rain" by Led Zeppelin
"Fool in the Rain" was Led Zeppelin's last official U.S. single before they split up in 1980. Robert Plant and John Paul Jones were inspired by the samba beats they heard during the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina. Led Zeppelin never performed the song live, but Plant later performed it with Pearl Jam in 2005 for a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert. I don't know if it was in the best taste to sing about a "fool in the rain" during a destructive tropical storm, but at least his heart was in the right place. 

The One-Mind Tracks Single of the Week: "Ballet for a Rainy Day" and "1000 Umbrellas" by XTC
One-Mind Tracks on the air does a weekly "single," where we take two related songs and group them together. It's not a real single, but please pretend with us. This week, both songs on the single come from Skylarking, a 1986 album produced by Todd Rundgren. "Ballet for a Rainy Day" leads seamlessly into "1000 Umbrellas" on the album. Since they're both about rain, it only seemed right to keep them together for the single.

"The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" by Switchfoot
If you're hating the rain, don't forget that it just makes sunnier days all the more beautiful. That's what Jon Foreman sings about in "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine." The album it comes from, Nothing is Sound, was often perceived to be a darker album. The band has always felt that it's more of a hopeful album, with Foreman saying, "I may write about how everything is meaningless, but it’s a very hopeful thing for me to be proven wrong."

"November Rain" by Guns N'Roses
For that one person who was going to tell me I forgot this one: here it is. At almost nine minutes, Guns N'Roses held the record for the longest song to enter the Billboard Top 10 until Taylor Swift broke the record with her #1 single, "All Too Well (Taylor's Version)." According to Slash though, the band even recorded an 18-minute version before the final recording. Anyway, it's a classic song about rain. As Regina Spektor says, "the solo's awful long//but it's a good refrain." 

"Rain" by The Beatles
An under-rated Beatles track for certain, "Rain" was the first pop song ever released with reversed vocals. Ringo Starr considers "Rain" to be his greatest recorded work as a drummer. John Lennon said the song was about "People moaning because [...] they don't like the weather." Lennon has claimed to have written the song alone but Paul McCartney remembers it differently. His perspective on the song was that people shouldn't have such a negative perception of something that can be wonderful, saying: "Songs have traditionally treated rain as a bad thing and what we got on to was that it's no bad thing. There's no greater feeling than the rain dripping down your back."

"Who'll Stop the Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival could have had the single this week with "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" but I decided to go with two that ran together better. "Who'll Stop the Rain" has been interpreted as a protest song and a song about Woodstock, with John Fogerty even stating as much, saying he went home and finished the song after he was at Woodstock.

"Purple Rain" by Prince
Another long rain song, "Purple Rain" is one of Prince's apocalyptical narratives, this one disguised by his favorite color raining down from the sky. In 2007, Prince performed at the Super Bowl halftime show. He closed his set with "Purple Rain" just as real rain began to fall from the sky.


Catch these songs on the One-Mind Tracks radio show this week! The show starts at 7PM EST on Thursday. You can catch it streaming over at 985winf.com. Or you can listen in for an episode of One-Mind Tracks any Thursday at 7pm!

Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a song that fits the theme!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

A Brief History: The Lasting Legacy of the "Addicted to Love" Music Video

"Addicted to Love" was originally released in 1985 as part of Robert Palmer's Riptide album. It was issued as a single the following year and was a game changer for Palmer. "Addicted to Love" became Palmer's first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and on the Mainstream Rock charts, as well as giving him a #1 in Australia and his most successful single in many other countries. But we're here to talk about the video.


Commemorative #14 by Patrick Nagel
British director and noted fashion photographer Terence Donovan was brought on board to direct the video for "Addicted to Love." His skills in the fashion photography field had been influential in the 1960s, when he photographed Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Jimi Hendrix, and many others. His photography continued from the '60s into the '80s and beyond. His style was distinct: deep blacks and harsh contrast. He could capture a fashionable look with seeming ease, which made him key in creating such an iconic video. The look realized in the video is reminiscent of the paintings of Patrick Nagel, the artist responsible for the cover of Duran Duran's Rio, and the many stylized paintings of dark-haired, pale women with dark lipstick and angular faces that we have come to associate with the art of the '80s. This similarity helps to cement the video as the look of the era. 

The original video included five models: Julie Pankhurst as the keyboard player, Patty Kelly and Julie Bolino as the guitarists, Mak Gilchrist as the bassist, and Kathy Davies as the drummer. Gilchrist spoke on her experience with Q Magazine, saying: "I was 21 and got the part on the strength of my modelling book. We were meant to look and 'act' like showroom mannequins." Gilchrist had previously been in commercials in addition to modeling work. Bolino and Davies had played parts in other music videos. Pankhurst and Elias were fresh to the scene. Supposedly, a real-life musician was meant to teach the models to look like they were playing, but according to according the VH1's Pop-Up Video: "gave up after about an hour and left." 

The video premise is incredibly simple, yet because of all of the seemingly small decisions, it became an instant classic. Palmer used the concept again in three more videos, meaning it became something of a signature look for him. 

His next music video was for the song "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On," a cover of a Cherrelle song written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The video featured even more models, some representing the camera crew, some dancing in formal attire, and of course the "backing band" of models. This time, the models in the pseudo band have a much more choreographed (or at least in-sync) dance routine. Donovan returned as the director. The song peaked at #2 behind Boston's "Amanda," definitely assisted by the music video. The intervening single, "Hyperactive" failed to make it into the top 30. Of course, in the mid to late '80s, much of an artist's success could be linked to having a music video in rotation and a great video could be pivotal in causing a single to take off. 

The success of the songs based on the quality or existence of a video could be considered put to the test over Palmer's next two single releases. A reissue of his 1985 single, "Discipline of Love" failed to chart anywhere other than Australia (where the song did move from #95 to #68 upon reissue). The following single was "Sweet Lies," a song from the forthcoming film of the same name. Even with a music video and an entire movie linked to the song, it only made it to #94 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Oh...Yikes!
Yet in 1988, Donovan was brought on board once again to direct the video for "Simply Irresistible," and once more, it became a high-charting single for Palmer, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Mainstream Rock charts. In my opinion, "Simply Irresistible" was the most striking video in this series. The third Palmer/Donovan collaboration features a more colorful look, with more advanced choreography. The knowledge that music videos weren't just a fad also allowed for better production values and lighting than the previous videos. The downside is that there is no "band" in "Simply Irresistible," reducing the women to set pieces dancers, giving them less to do than in the previous videos. Julie Pankhurst, Julia Bolino, and Kathy Davies all returned for "Simply Irresistible."

"Simply Irresistible" would be the final collaboration between Palmer and Donovan, as well as Palmer's last Billboard Hot 100 top ten hit. The final video Palmer did in this style was "Change His Ways," a comical take on the other videos in which Palmer is accompanied by a backing band of sexy duck women in plain black dresses. 

VH1 ranked the video for "Addicted to Love" at #3 on their list of the top videos of the '80s and it immediately began to be visually referenced in other artists' music videos and sometimes parodied. Let's go through a few examples.

Weird Al Yankovic - "Addicted to Spuds" and "UHF"
Yankovic has always been great at spotting trends, which is the only explanation I can think of as to how he was the first in line to emulate the look of these iconic videos. In 1986, Yankovic parodied "Addicted to Love" with "Addicted to Spuds," a spot-on parody as always. For MTV's New Year's Eve celebration in 1987, he performed the song live with a backing band of sexy Mr. Potato Heads (they had legs with dark tights on like in the original video, I'm not attracted to potatoes). The potatoes stared blankly ahead like the women in the original video, and mimed playing instruments whilst swaying in place just as the women had in the original video. Honestly, it's pretty funny now, thirty-five years removed from the event. I imagine it would have been even funnier at the time.

Two years later when he wrote an original song for his movie UHF, Yankovic continued to recognize the video's importance in popular culture of the '80s. The music video for the song "UHF" features visual references to many iconic videos including "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan and of course, "Addicted to Love." The twist Yankovic puts on the look this time is that all of the models in his "band" sport Yankovic-style moustaches and glasses. If you've never seen the video for "UHF" but are a fan of '80s music videos, it's definitely worth a watch.

Tone Lōc - "Wild Thing"
As early as 1988, Tone Lōc released "Wild Thing," the video for which was reportedly filmed for around $500. That budget was evidently enough to pay a group of girls to impersonate the Robert Palmer models. The girls in the "Wild Thing" video act as the "band" and sway slightly out of rhythm with one another just as in the original "Addicted to Love" video. Being only two years later than the inspiration and not outwardly comedic, it seems like a strange homage but I can only assume that director Tamra Davis was already aware that "Addicted to Love" featured a look to be reckoned with.

Paula Abdul - "Forever Your Girl"
In 1989, more mainstream artists were ready to make reference to Palmer's videos, as Paula Abdul did in the video for "Forever Your Girl." Directed by David Fincher of all people, the video sees Abdul coaching children in a variety of dance routines. Three of the young ladies are being shown moves from "Simply Irresistible" and are dressed in attire similar to "Addicted to Love." They are eventually able to perform in a color segment vs. the black and white the video is primarily shot in, presumably meaning it's the final version of the performance for the video. 

Die Prinzen - "Alles nur geklaut"
German pop-rock band Die Prinzen (The Princes) went to #4 in their home country and #3 in Austria with this 1993 single. The video is another that zips through a series of references to '80s videos, so of course they include a parody of the "Addicted to Love" video.

Mr. Blobby - "Mr. Blobby"
The disturbing children's television juggernaut that is Mr. Blobby had a Christmas #1 in the U.K. with this self-titled track (the song replaced Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love" at #1. That song is far from being my favorite song, but it didn't deserve that). The video (apart from being a fever dream) references at least four music videos, including "Addicted to Love" of course.

Stardust - "Music Sounds Better with You"
In 1998, French house music band, Stardust released the video for their song "Music Sounds Better with You." Michel Gondry directed the video, which follows a boy as he builds a model airplane. The TV in the background of the video plays a top five countdown of music videos, including the guys from Stardust singing the "Music Sounds Better with You." Along with the other four fully-fictional videos, one of them is for a song called "Hotlipz" by "Dave Stavros." The video for "Hotlipz" is an obvious visual reference to "Addicted to Love."

Shania Twain - "Man! I Feel Like a Woman"
Shania Twain was really the first artist to put her own spin on "Addicted to Love" for her 1999 single "Man! I Feel Like a Woman." Paul Boyd directed the video which features the iconic cloudy background- but this time, male models miming the instruments for her "backing band." The men are dressed in black as with the original female models, but with mesh shirts in place of short skirts with hosiery. The men stare blankly ahead while Twain rocks out in front in a stunning outfit far more memorable than Palmer's shirt-and-tie look. The video won video of the year in the MuchMusic Video Awards in 2000. It's also Twain's highest-viewed video on YouTube. 

Bowling For Soup - "1985"
2004 saw SR-71 release a song called "1985." Most people know the song better from the cover by Bowling For Soup which was also released in 2004. The video is another that pays homage to many '80s videos (although as far as I can tell, none of them are as early as 1985). What's interesting about this video is that the actual band dress up as the models, down to the dresses and smoky eyes.

Ingrid Michaelson - "Girls Chase Boys"
Like Shania Twain, Ingrid Michaelson's video puts a new spin on the concept of the Palmer/Donovan videos. Michaelson openly pays tribute with a video inspired by "Simply Irresistible" specifically. "Girls Chase Boys" is a song about how "no matter who or how we love, we are all the same." Michaelson stated "The video takes that idea one step further, and attempts to turn stereotypical gender roles on their head. Girls don't exclusively chase boys. We all know this. We all chase each other and in the end we are all chasing after the same thing: love." Her 2014 video includes both men and women emulating the dance moves from "Simply Irresistible," as well as perfect adaptations of the costumes. Michaelson herself stands in front in a suit, carrying herself much like Palmer, using his hand motions when possible. 

Luca Carboni - "Luca Lo Stesso
In 2015, Luca Carboni wrote a song about the contradictions of the world. Cosimo Alemà was brought in to direct the video, which features an all-female backing band with smoky eyes and matching dresses. Carboni told his YouTube audience: "I liked the idea of ​​having a band that was only symbolic. It is no coincidence that the 80s are mentioned with the video of my first single. There the roots of my music and my history lie. They are the roots of this new album, which reach up to here, to look to the future" (translated from Spanish). 

The impact of these videos doesn't end there: from covers like "Addicted to Love" by Black Heart Saints that also pays tribute to the video, to the music video being filmed in Love Actually with a band of model Santas for the band, to the many parodies of "Addicted to Love" that have sprung up over the years, even to the present day. Even in the early days of MTV when videos were somewhat scarce, there were winners and losers. It's clear that to this day the collaboration between director Terence Donovan and Robert Palmer has a lasting impact on the music video scene. Donovan suffered from depression and committed suicide in 1996 and Palmer died of heart failure in 2003, but people have still been referencing the videos. Their legacy outlived them.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

One-Mind Tracks: The Comeback Kid

 With Easter coming up, One-Mind Tracks is taking a look at songs that represent "resurrections" of artists into later work. The primary focus is going to be on younger artists "resurrecting" their musical heroes in one way or another, but there are a couple of exceptions to that rule that I feel still fit the general theme. 

"What Have I Done to Deserve This?" by The Pet Shop Boys (with Dusty Springfield)
"What Have I Done to Deserve This?" was the first time The Pet Shop boys worked with another recording artist. They wrote the song with Allee Willis (Co-writer of "September" and "Boogie Wonderland"). Many contemporary artists were considered for the other half of the duet, but it wasn't until their manager's assistant suggested Dusty Springfield that there was a clear path ahead. Neil Tennant often mentiond Dusty in Memphis as his favorite album. As Springfield hadn't had a top 40 hit since 1970, EMI pushed for a different artist, such as Tina Turner or Barbara Streisand. Tennant remained steadfast in his decision to get Springfield on the track, meaning the song failed to make it onto their first album. Springfield's manager sent word that she was not interested in recording the duet, as she wasn't familiar with the band. Months later, Springfield heard "West End Girls" on the radio and changed her tune. "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" was the first, but not last, collaboration between Springfield and The Pet Shop Boys. After the song caused a resurgence in Springfield's career, Tennant and Lowe were also able to write and produce "Nothing Has Been Proved" and "In Private" for her next album, Reputation


"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" by Aretha Franklin (Featuring George Michael)
This duo may have seemed a strange choice, but after the song was pitched to Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin, Arista Records head Clive Davis suggested that Franklin and George Michael should sing it as a duet. Franklin was a musical hero to many, including Michael. Franklin was also very impressed with everything she heard from Wham! By the late '80s, Franklin's popular appeal was fading, but this collaboration with Michael in 1987 gave Franklin her first #1 since "Respect" in 1967. 

"Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money
After years of controlling and abusive behavior from Ronnie Spector's ex-husband Phil Spector, she considered herself to be fully retired as a singer. Eddie Money was also experiencing a slump in his career brought on by several years of drug abuse. His producer, Richie Zito played him a demo of "Take Me Home Tonight." Money was initially unimpressed but liked the catch line. He suggested they get Ronnie Spector to sing the snippet of "Be My Baby" but was told that would be impossible. Instead, Money invited Martha Davis of The Motels to sing on the track. Davis told Money he should try to recrui
t Spector on his own. After some persistence, Money was able to speak with Spector, who told him "I'm doing the dishes, and I gotta change the kids' bedding. I’m not really in the business anymore, Eddie." Money explained that the song was something of a tribute to Spector and shared his excitement about doing the song with her. Spector finally agreed and the success of this single actually convinced Spector to resume her singing career. 


"On the Wings of a Nightingale" by The Everly Brothers
In 1984, The Everly Brothers released EB 84, their first album in 11 years. The track listing contains a variety of top-notch songwriters including Jeff Lynne and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay." Paul McCartney (for whom The Everly Brothers had always been a strong influence) wrote and recorded a demo of "On the Wings of a Nightingale" specifically for The Everly Brothers, even playing guitar on the final track (Jeff Lynne also performed bass and helped with arrangements in addition to contributing "The Story of Me"). It's a great example of people helping keep their musical idols alive and making great music. 

"You Got It" by Roy Orbison
Speaking of Jeff Lynne, he and Tom Petty wrote this song with Roy Orbison for what would become his posthumous album Mystery Girl. The whole album is relevant to this playlist with another single written by Bono and The Edge and songs by Elvis Costello and cowritten with Albert Hammond, with musical contributions from The Heartbreakers, George Harrison, Jim Keltner, and T Bone Burnett. The album was intended to represent Orbison's comeback into the music world. However, Orbison passed away before the album was fully complete, just 17 days after his only live performance of "You Got It." Thanks to Orbison's work with The Travelling Wilburys as well, Orbison became the first artist since Elvis to have two albums in the top five after his death. As for "You Got It," it peaked at # 9 on the singles charts in 1989, making it his first top ten single on the hot 100 since "(Oh) Pretty Woman" in 1964.

"Drop Down and Get Me" by Del Shannon
Now that we've been talking about Tom Petty, let's discuss his assistance with Del Shannon's 1981 comeback album Drop Down and Get Me. The Heartbreakers acted as Shannon's backing band and Petty produced the album by one of his musical heroes. Petty also references Shannon in his song with The Heartbreakers, "Runnin' Down a Dream."

"This Little Girl" by Gary U.S. Bonds
Bruce Springsteen and other members of The E-Street band contributed to Bonds' album Dedication. "This Little Girl" acted as his comeback single, reaching #11 in 1981. Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt went on to work with him on his next album, On the Line.

"Chinatown" by Bleachers (Featuring Bruce Springsteen)
Just as Springsteen got to work with one of his influences, Gary U.S. Bonds, Jack Antonoff got to work with fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen on "Chinatown." Antonoff said of Springsteen: "He is the artist who showed me that the sound of the place I am from has value and that there is a spirit here that needs to be taken all over the world." Springsteen's inclusion on the song is played as organically as possible, with his voice appearing subtly in the background. While I don't think The Boss needs to revitalize his career, support from Bleachers may introduce his work to a whole new generation of fans.


"Smooth" by Santana (Featuring Rob Thomas)
The concept for "Smooth" was developed by Itaal Shur as a song called "Room 17." He gave the lyric-free version of the song to Rob Thomas, who rewrote the lyrics and renamed the song. Thomas excitedly demoed the song for Santana, who insisted that Thomas should be on the final track (although Thomas was hoping to get George Michael to record the vocal). It would be Santana's first single in 14 years. The finished song spent 12 weeks at #1, meaning it charted higher than Santana's second biggest hit, "Black Magic Woman" from 1970. 

"Walk This Way" by Run-DMC (Featuring Aerosmith)
Aerosmith weren't well-known in 1975 when "Walk This Way" was originally released as a single. It failed to chart. After a bit more commercial success, Aerosmith rereleased it as a single in 1976 at which point it peaked at #10. By 1986, however, the band hadn't even been in the top 100 for years. Run-DMC were introduced to the song by producer Rick Rubin. They had rapped over a loop of the first ten seconds of the song at live shows before they even heard the rest of it. Joseph Simmons and Daryl McDaniels were unaware of Aerosmith but Rubin suggested they do a version of the song. Jam Master Jay was open to the idea, though the other two members of the group were not initially on board. They recorded their version with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry and did not plan for it to become a single. However, the single ended up charting higher than the original, reaching #4, receiving play on both urban and rock stations. The Run-DMC/Aerosmith version ended up being one of the leaders in the emergence of rap-rock as a genre. It also revitalized Aerosmith's career, opening the way for their future multi-platinum albums and more top 40 hits.

"Wipe Out" by The Fat Boys (Featuring the Beach Boys)
Directly inspired by the success of Run-DMC and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," The Fat Boys decided to recruit The Beach Boys to do a cover of "Wipe Out" with them. The song reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and inspired them to work with Chubby Checker on a cover of "The Twist."

"Still D.R.E." by Dr. Dre (Featuring Snoop Dogg)
After seven years without an album release, Dr. Dre wanted something big for his comeback solo release. He recruited Jay-Z to write the lyrics and Snoop Dogg to feature on the song just as he had also been featured on Dr. Dre's debut solo single "Deep Cover." The song peaked at #93 upon initial release, bringing Dre back to the forefront of the hip-hop scene. Surprisingly, the song actually reached #23 this year after its inclusion as the finale of the Super Bowl halftime show. 

Sorry! No official One-Mind Tracks single this week. But I think we can agree that there are a few potential ones on this list!

Catch these songs on the One-Mind Tracks radio show this week! The show starts at 7PM EST on Thursday. You can catch it streaming over at 985winf.com. Or you can listen in for an episode of One-Mind Tracks any Thursday at 7pm!

Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a song that fits the theme!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Album Review: Further Joy by The Regrettes


I have no idea how many times this will need to be repeated in the coming decades, but: the lockdown was hard on everyone. The effects of the pandemic on us as a society are still being researched in an attempt to understand it from every angle. For performers, the pandemic was a huge lifestyle change. Many took to livestreaming as a surrogate for live shows, but it could never be the same. As an avid fan of live music who worked all through the pandemic, I can tell you that I didn't tune in to many livestreams even though I would have taken the time off for an in-person show. It just isn't the same. There's a kind of energy you get from the band and that they get from you that can't be replaced. Frontperson for The Regrettes, Lydia Night says she suffered from the lack of live performing. Many songs on the new album address anxiety (which, no surprise, is a symptom that has increased exponentially since the pandemic). Night channeled her anxiety and stress into a therapeutic songwriting process. That process seems to have yielded the band's 2020 release "What am I Gonna Do Today" as well as many songs on Further Joy. Night has spoken in-depth on the topic, saying; "Part of the healing process for me is really learning and trying my best to keep on dancing the pain away so I hope people can relate to that and dance with me."

This brings us up to the current day now that Further Joy has been fully contextualized. It's a departure from their earlier music just as our world is a departure from the way it was in February of 2020. The band's confident pop-punk is now joined with a '90s pop sound. Night channels Gwen Stefani and even Donna Lewis' soft and floating vocals, in doing so showing her own voice off. It lets you hear her range. Bands pivot to other genres all the time, but rarely for such a good reason. 

Further Joy kicks off with "Anxieties," which introduces the feeling to the album. The intro and first verse are accompanied by something akin to a half-wall of sound produced by Tim Pagnotta. The synthesizer and glockenspiel part that opens the song continues through the first verse, creating a sense of monotony and anxiety. When it breaks at the chorus, the relief is palpable. The chorus is introduced by drums before transitioning into an ethereal, quieter part of the song. Thus, the song is able to convey the sentiment of the lyrics before you even know what they are. The lyrics to "Anxieties" cover many ways we can feel and express our anxieties, from constant crying to negative and painful thought distortions that lower our self-esteem. Despite the constant worries, the message of the song manages to be somewhat positive thanks to the constant mantra of "knock me down down up back down//knock me down I won't back down." The themes of the lyrics are echoed by the music video, whether Night is looking in a funhouse mirror that distorts her self-image, sitting with several spotlights on her, not knowing what to do with her hands, viewing the whole world in a distorted manner, or seeking plastic surgery despite the fact that there's absolutely nothing wrong with her. "Anxieties" makes its point in every way, making it an incredibly effective pop track.

"Anxieties" is immediately followed by my favorite track on the album, the earworm "Monday." "Monday" would fit in on one of their earlier albums with relative ease, yet it also indicates a great deal of musical growth. "Monday" covers similar topics to "Anxieties," even including another reference to uncontrollable crying ("I swear it's just my sinuses I'll be fine"). Musically, the song does something I find brilliant, whether it was fully intentional or not. The beginning of the song brings to mind "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with the guitar rhythm and some of the chord intervals. As the song moves into the chorus, the bass synth part takes on the piano part from "Baba O'Riley" and then the song shifts back and forth between these two movements. The video for "Monday" takes place at a high school dance. Between the video, the lyrics about "these growing pains they push me 'till I break," and the fact that the song calls upon two of the most seminal songs about teens, I am inclined to believe that "Monday" is, in part about teenage anxiety. Guitarist and keyboardist Genessa Gariano told  Consequence Sound: "Personally, I’ve been carrying the anxiety backpack around since I was a kid. I know from conversations I’ve had with friends, that they’ve related to that experience too." Teenage thoughts and troubles don't stop just because we graduate high school. 


Next up is "That's What Makes Me Love You," a reggae-beat driven song reminiscent of No Doubt or The Cardigans' "Lovefool." It's a sweet song about a young relationship, but it doesn't portray the relationship as all roses. For the third song in a row, there are references to crying. Night says the song was about her getting over her relationship anxiety; "I would look at any argument or tense conversation as a sign or scary thing, making it mean so much more than just a simple conversation. I got out of that place by realizing, 'I love this person for exactly who they are and nothing needs to change.'[...] The song came from me flipping the narrative in my own brain to 'That’s not why I should be scared. That’s why I love you.'" 

The following song, "Barely on my Mind" is a total 180 from the topics of "That's What Makes Me Love You." It's a song about an undeniably toxic relationship that the narrator has left, but still can't shake. Night describes everything from "high highs" (a staple of emotionally abusive relationships, as they make you think this person could be the one after all) to "no sleep//400 miles away you control me" and "follow me around//hold me 'till I drown." The bridge covers the same topic as "I Knew You Were Trouble" (feeling as though this person was bad news from the beginning, yet still proceeding and kicking yourself later) with "I had a feeling and no, I wasn't wrong//I had a feelin' you were a devil in a fancy suit." Night pulled this relationship straight out of personal experience, saying: "That song for me was processing [a] shi**y relationship because it doesn’t go away, it doesn’t just disappear." Musically, "Barely on my Mind" has an intro and underlying instrumental reminiscent of Tame Impala, with a string sting popping in occasionally that plays like one of Jeff Lynne's production choices. Night stays close to "That's What Makes Me Love You" with a vocal similar to Stefani again. This is in no way an indication that the song is a facsimile of other artists' material. Quite the contrary; the elements of artists that The Regrettes are pulling from adds complexity to their work. The two songs may be completely disconnected, but there is a musical continuity between "That's What Makes Me Love You" and "Barely on my Mind."


"Subtleties (Never Giving up on You)" takes on body image in a manner that almost sounds like a love song. That is, until you give it a deep listen and realize it's the narrator's own body she is trying to love as she's "stuck in you forever." I love the way this song is able to convey feelings of insecurity and living uncomfortably within your own skin. My favorite line goes: "easy to preach it when you're not//naked in the mirror yelling affirmations just to find a thing that you believe." "Subtleties" acts as a love song about trying to fall in love with yourself, but came from a dark place for Night, who has struggled with eating disorders since the age of 15. The chorus is very singable and the production by Tim Pagnotta once again begs for your attention.

The external anxieties are back for "La Di Da." Night describes feeling an anxiety attack coming on through an otherwise great day. All she can do in the song is push it down and give herself nonsense to sing so that she doesn't focus on the panic creeping in. "La Di Da" is one of the most upbeat songs on the album, bringing to mind a '90s or early '00s Europop song, particularly at the chorus. All of the collective noise of the verses and choruses really makes the bridge more impressive within the context of the song. It's quiet and uplifting, feeling like a break from the stresses. A slight, gentle Burt Bacharach brass part pops in with the melody above sustained strings and chimes. When the drum beat returns, the song remains peaceful: not something you would dance to, but something you can "vibe" to. It seems as though the "La Di Da" mantra has begin to work for her, and now it's offered as advice. 

Although "La Di Da" is also produced by Jacknife Lee as well, "Homesick" and "Better Now" sound more closely related as a pair. Lee's production crosses between modern pop and the synthpop/post-punk sound of bands like New Order. This production works perfectly with the guitar sound, which is reminiscent of The Xx during their first album, and the bass, which brings to mind the work of Simon Gallup. These two songs discuss very different topics, with "Homesick" being a genuine song about Night missing her boyfriend and "Better Now" about the hindsight one experiences when looking back on previous unwarranted anxieties.

"Rosy" is one of the most poppy songs on the album, but a mesh of modern and turn-of-the-millennium pop. As lightly implied by the title, "Rosy" is about wearing rose-tinted glasses. The narrator is so happy in her new relationship that she doesn't see anything negative about the situation. Even though at one point she mentions that he "had a girlfriend," I can't see anything negative about the relationship either. It's a song that's upbeat and fun, and the lyrics send you to a charming place. Everything works together very well. The only downside to "Rosy" as included on this album is that the anxieties mentioned in the song are "cured" by her crush, which we know is not sustainable. Night was aware of this, stating "I had to learn not to let all my highs exist with someone else because placing that sort of pressure on a relationship is not healthy. I think it’s better to not have those glasses on." As high as the emotion gets in "Rosy," it immediately drops to a much lower place for the ballad-like "You're So F***ing Pretty." "You're So F***ing Pretty" is a childlike, regretful tale of a missed romantic opportunity. Gariano drove the songwriting process for this one, pulling from a real story of a crush on a friend. Night, however, had her own experience to pull from as well. Drummer Drew Thomsen told Consequence Sound "It started out like this Fleetwood Mac song with a big stomping kick." Producer Tim Pagnotta suggested that the subject matter of the track would make it more effective as a piano song.


"Step 9" and "Nowhere" return to faster tempos. Both songs are somewhat nostalgic, but not in a good way. "Step 9" is about not fully forgiving someone for their former toxicity just because they're sober now. The title, "Step 9" is an obvious reference the the AA Twelve-Step program, step nine of which is "Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." "Nowhere" is another song about body image and anxiety as well as the lust to find happiness in hitting goals, with the standout line being "not a single pore, I really can't relate//hey, but if I had that skin you know I'd still complain." Most issues with body image are unavoidable, as everyone wants something they don't have physically. In addition, however, feelings of depression and anxiety come not only from comparing ourselves to others, but from expecting external success to validate us within ourselves.

In my opinion, a good album closer acts as a thesis statement for the album. "Show Me You Want Me" incorporates many ideas from the album. The sound of the track sums up some of the other musical themes explored, but also brings a high energy to wrap up the album. The lyrics once again touch on insecurity and romance. Night sings "and if you take away the stage am I something you can see through," which for me, brings to mind her quote about being a performer during lockdown: "as LA locked down, I felt a huge part of my identity and ego being stripped away because of no touring, and no connecting with people at our shows."

If this album has one flaw, to me it is that the songs are arranged with the very strongest ones on the first half. The other songs are good, but not as good. Apart from that, the album is solid. Night's lyrics are complex and at times prove that you can say simple things in interesting ways. The exploration of sound gives the band new depth and versatility, which will open up even more opportunities for songwriting in the future. Lydia Night as a frontperson has always had a lot of attitude and confidence, yet here is often vulnerable. I hope young fans who saw her persona as a goal will now be able to see that they too can be who they want to be, even if it's a great deal of hard work to get there.

The Regrettes are a punk/rock/pop band from Los Angeles.


Further Joy is out now and can be purchased on vinyl here.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

One-Mind Tracks: We Don't Have to Grow Up

A common criticism of my generation is the idea that we all have Peter Pan syndrome. Supposedly, we all want to stay children forever, no matter how full our facial hair is. Now, I'm not going to blame all of this on the generation before us, but I do distinctly remember every '90s commercial being about how awful adults are and cartoons with parents who were completely devoid of personality. We grew up thinking that being an adult was boring and so it's no surprise that we're reluctant to "grow up." Heck, even this ad for Toys 'R' Us (rest in peace) was telling us not to grow up. 


I think my generation is learning to excel at something special though; we are staying young at heart. The term "adulting" is everywhere and some people really hate it. I've done a 180 about the phrase. At first I didn't like it because I dove headfirst into adulthood as soon as I could...but I've also never felt like an adult. Not even now, at 30. "Adulting" speaks to a larger topic than just doing things the grown-up way or being over an age line. "Adulting" means doing the mature and responsible things you have to do. It implies that you have other times when you can embrace things not considered to be mature. Maybe you're skateboarding, building a Lego masterpiece or just hanging out with your friends and playing video games until late at night. That's perfect. My favorite thing about being an adult is getting to combine traditional "adulting" with a continued love for the things I've always loved. I don't have as much time as I used to, but I love wearing bright, silly outfits. I love having Barbies and toys. They might not be used as much as they used to be but it's all part of just staying young inside. Like what you like, do what you do. That's what this playlist is about also.

"Stay Young, Go Dancing" by Death Cab For Cutie
I picked this track very early on in my planning process. Lead singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard has stated that this track was partly inspired by his then-wife, actress Zooey Deschanel. The declaration of "life is sweet in the belly of the beast" is a reference to him coming to enjoy Los Angeles, a city he nicknamed "the belly of the beast" previously. "Stay Young, Go Dancing" is most likely about a long-term relationship. Yet, it says so much more than just that they'll grow old together. "Through winter's advancing//we'll stay young, go dancing" is a promise that the couple will stay young together even as they age. It's a beautiful sentiment.


"Forever Young" by Bob Dylan
Dylan wrote this one in Tucson, Arizona as a lullaby for his eldest son, Jesse. He had been missing his son, but didn't want to get too sentimental. His album Planet Waves contains two versions of the song: one fast and one slow. "Forever Young" is a lullaby. but also a blessing. Dylan is calling for his son to have many grown-up attributes while still holding onto his youth.


"Patience" by Tame Impala
Kevin Parker of Tame Impala sings of the persistence of time and that "time takes from everyone." His version of staying young is "growing up in stages." Adulthood isn't a black-and-white instant transition, it's a series of decisions. One of those decisions can always be to stay young or to keep some forms of childishness as you gradually add adult responsibilities on.


"Innocence" by Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne begs us (or rather, herself) to hold on to innocence. Too often, this is the first thing we lose in our adulthood. Obviously, there are elements of innocence that we typically don't keep forever. "Innocence" isn't about those things though. It's about the appreciation of simple things, giving ourselves the ability to feel truly happy. Adults can be jaded by so many things. Lavigne (and Evan Taubenfeld) just remind us to keep our feelings of positivity close. They remind us to appreciate beautiful and wonderful things in life (which is always a huge element in staying young at heart).


"I Don't Wanna Grow Up" by The Ramones
The long list of things The Ramones don't want to do includes growing up. Tom Waits wrote and originally recorded this song. The Ramones covered it three years later for their final album, ¡Adios Amigos! It totally fits their style, but of course I do want to talk about Waits' songwriting here. Waits has always been a non-conformist so his assertion that he doesn't want to grow up is almost like a mission statement. Not growing up can sometimes just mean not conforming to what society thinks you should do because you're over 18. As long as it isn't hurting anyone, you can do whatever you want to as an adult. It doesn't mean you have to grow up though!


"Give Yourself a Try" by The 1975 [explicit]
The 1975 wrote this track with both autobiographical and fictional elements in an attempt to capture social anxiety and pressure as millennials experience it. The overall message of the song is to have a little faith in yourself. To me, a big part of why my generation doesn't want to grow up seems to be the fact that many of us have low self-esteem and are afraid of failing if we trust in ourselves enough to go for the big, adult life. 


"Alright" by Supergrass
It's amazing that this 27-year-old song seems both more modern and more retro than it is. Lead singer Gaz Coombes stated that the song was not intended as an anthem, but a message to the age group they had recently left, young teenagers. Coombes was nineteen when the song was written, and it was intended as a playful song for those just entering their teen years. In defense of its inclusion on this list, however, I present to you the lyrics, "Are we like you?//I can't be sure//Of the scene, as she turns//We are strange, in our worlds." It seems these teens Coombes imagines are already unsure of their place in the world. They don't know if they're "adults" or not. Of course, we know they aren't, but if we imagine the song being about older people, it does speak to the vulnerability and uncertainty one can feel when not feeling as though they're quite "grown-up."


The One-Mind Tracks Single of the week: "Colorful" b/w "Boring" by Jukebox the Ghost
One-Mind Tracks on the air has started doing a weekly "single," where we take two related songs and group them together. It's not a real single, but please pretend with us. This week, both songs on the single come from Off to the Races, a 2018 album by Jukebox the Ghost. Much of the album explores the topic we're discussing. These two songs are the most relevant to the playlist. "Colorful" says "work hard, play hard//we don't have to grow up" while "Boring" bemoans the fact that the people around the vocalist (Tommy Siegel) are all growing up and "getting boring." He realizes that it's inevitable to "get old and boring" and his best defense is to embrace it. He suggests that the object of his affection is not boring, but even at that, he is fine getting old and boring with her. "Colorful" is the thesis of this whole playlist. We can do all of the adult things required of us without "growing up."


"Changes" by David Bowie
David Bowie wasn't speaking on this theme per se, but the lyrics see a man looking at his younger self and his ideas of success that never panned out. Lines like "don't tell them to grow up and out of it" imply a defense of the young dreamers. Bowie also uses the line "time may change me//but I can't trace time." To me at least, that line says that he recognizes that he's grown older and more mature, but he still doesn't view himself differently because he doesn't even register that a great deal of time has passed. 



"Forever Young" by Rod Stewart
This Rod Stewart track closely follows the formula of the Dylan song from earlier. I think each of these songs are beautiful, even if they serve essentially the same purpose. Stewart doesn't hope for them to "stay forever young" as Dylan does, but he does say that if they follow his advice, they will be forever young in his heart. Stewart wrote this song with his bandmates: guitarist Jim Cregan and keyboardist Kevin Savigar. Like Dylan, Stewart wrote this song for his children. 



"Child" by Lights
Lights wrote this song while pregnant with her first child. The song is an expression of her anxiety leading up to becoming a mother while still feeling like child herself. She sings "what do I know//I'm just a child//trying to talk like a mother does." Lights ends the track with "maybe I'm still trying to see like a child does." Lights is struggling with both ends of the "growing up" in this song. She worries about her ability to "adult" while still hoping that she'll be able to hold onto her childlike qualities.



"Unbelievable" by Owl City (featuring Hanson)
The main theme of "Unbelievable" is nostalgia, which the song relies on heavily. That said, the chorus keeps bringing up the line "you haven't seen nothing yet." To me, that line expresses Owl City's trademark optimism that no matter how awesome the past may have been, there are great things still to come in adulthood. 


"No Guilt" by The Waitresses
Though it's primarily a break-up song about getting on fine without your ex, "No Guilt" makes it onto the list because of how proud the narrator is of her adult responsibilities and handling her life herself. Finding joy in your life is a big part of staying young at heart. 



Catch these songs on the One-Mind Tracks radio show this week! The show starts at 7PM EST on Thursday. You can catch it streaming over at 985winf.com. Or you can catch an episode of One-Mind Tracks any Thursday at 7pm!

Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a song that fit the theme!


P.S. I didn't watch the video for Rod Stewart's "Forever Young" at first but I kept looking at the video's thumbnail. It wasn't until I put it in this article that I realized that's a real kid and not a ventriloquist dummy. I thought it was set to be a really strange video.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

I've Got This Covered: The Beatles: Let it Be

I shall forever be a great defender of cover versions of songs. I just love seeing what artists can do with one-another's work; what they can add, what they can make their own about it. "I've Got This Covered" is making an official comeback after four years of retirement in order to celebrate The Beatles Get Back movie (and the accompanying concert film and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Exhibit and I don't know, there's probably a tie-in with Fruit-by-the-Foot at this point). "I've Got This Covered" is an article series in which I imagine which artists could do great covers of (in most cases) a full album. Today, my choices were influenced by AJ Ward.

1) Two of Us - Tegan and Sara
One of the biggest takeaways from Get Back is realizing how close The Beatles had gotten after years of writing, playing, and generally being around one-another. Not only was Two of Us the name of another Michael Lindsay-Hogg film (Lindsay-Hogg was the director of the original Get Back footage, for those not in the know), it's also the title of a song (obviously) that perfectly sums up John Lennon and Paul McCartney's strained-yet-loving, brotherly creative process. We considered Ben Gibbard for this one, since his voice would suit it well and his acoustic prowess would be a great match. But Tegan and Sara would be able to both harmonize on the track and to bring to the table some of their own relationship as sisters and collaborators. Tegan and Sara have already covered another Beatles song, "Lovely Rita" in collaboration with The Flaming Lips, Stardeath and White Dwarfs.



2) Dig A Pony - Orville Peck
Orville Peck uses equine imagery throughout his work. He has the wide vocal range necessary for this song and his glam-country sound would give it a twist while still fitting with the sound of the original. 

3) Across the Universe - Tame Impala
AJ and I compiled our lists separately, yet we both picked Tame Impala for this one without a second thought. Kevin Parker of Tame Impala would presumably throw on a lot more reverb (more of a post-Beatles Lennon sound). We also imagine him coming in on a funky bassline with the vocals and adding drums just a bit further on. While Parker doesn't consider himself to be a huge Beatles fan, his song "Yes I'm Changing" has been perfectly mashed up with "Imagine" by Sam DeMartino. Parker has also covered John Lennon's "Jealous Guy." 

 


4) I Me Mine - The Raconteurs
This one was tough to decide. We couldn't figure out who could handle the soft, sad and gentle tones of George Harrison in the verse as well as the rough-and-tumble raucousness of the chorus. Luckily, AJ thought of Jack White for the guitarwork on the chorus and we decided that the The Raconteurs would be a perfect fit for this song. Brendan Benson would handle the gentle, melodic verses and Jack White could rock hard on the choruses. Problem solved. (Side note: Jack White, I come to you as a blue hologram of myself. If you're reading this, please make this happen. If there's anyone on this list I trust to get things done, it's you) The Raconteurs have already paid tribute to The Beatles in their own way. Some copies of their 2019 album Help Us Stranger contained a parody of The Beatles' famous "butcher cover" hidden under the real cover.

5) Dig It - Cake
Short but sweet, this track would have probably been nothing more than a studio outtake if the album had yielded more tracks. Since it made it onto the album, we can imagine nothing better than letting Cake have a go at it. John McCrea's unusual vocal stylings would be perfect for the format of the song and the rest of the band could come up with some wild interpretations as well.

6) Let it Be - Regina Spektor
This song was hotly discussed during our planning sessions. Whoever was going to cover it needed to be great at piano and needed to be able to convey a lot of emotion in their voice. Alicia Keys was brought up, Vanessa Carlton, and probably twenty others. No one seemed perfect for it but I was certain that Regina Spektor could handle it and make it interesting. Spektor is incredibly talented at piano and her voice is always rich with emotion. Spektor has previously covered "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Real Love," and "And Your Bird Can Sing" (For The Beat Bugs). 



7) Maggie Mae - They Might Be Giants
Another short track, "Maggie Mae" is well-suited for the kings of short songs: They Might Be Giants. TMBG would also bring their own humor to the song just as Lennon and McCartney did. TMBG grew up listening to The Beatles. John Flansburgh remembers A Hard Day's Night being the first album he purchased. John Linnell has even referred to them as "the shi**y Beatles." As a result of all of this, many of their songs have parodied or referenced The Beatles. They've even covered Paul McCartney's "Ram On" and The Beatles' "Savoy Truffle."



8) I've Got a Feeling - Jukebox the Ghost
I've discussed previously how technically great Jukebox the Ghost are as musicians; Ben Thornewill could probably have stepped into Billy Preston's shoes with little effort. Jukebox is also a band with two very strong songwriters who are able to harmonize swimmingly and who both act as lead singer at times (and this is no offense to Jesse Kristin, who is a perfect match on drums). Jukebox the Ghost would power "I've Got a Feeling" with the fun of early Beatles and the musical prowess of the later years. Jukebox the Ghost did a medley of songs from Abbey Road on a French radio station nearly ten years ago.


9) One After 909 - The Nude Party
Sometimes, The Nude Party go in a more psychedelic direction, but not always. Songs like "Chevrolet Van" show us what this North Carolinian band can do in terms of a 50s/early 60s sound, which is exactly what "One After 909" calls for. 

10) The Long and Winding Road - Adele
I'm still not over Adele's voice. Although we threw around the names of other female singers (that seemed to be the constant for some reason), Adele was the only one we thought would be able to carry the depth and breadth of the song. 

11) For You Blue - Ben Gibbard
Long-time readers should know that I love Ben Gibbard's voice almost as much as I love George Harrison's songwriting. This song is strange and sweet. The parts are odd. But we felt that there was no better person to bring it together than Ben Gibbard. His range is fairly similar to Harrison's, and since he knows his way around an acoustic guitar, it's like it was meant to be. Gibbard did a full livestream of Beatles covers during the 2020 lockdown (unfortunately, it didn't include "For You Blue").



12) Get Back - Ben Folds Five
Whoever we picked for "Get Back" needed to be able to rock out. We wanted the piano too. While Ben Folds is the guitarist and pianist for The Ben Folds Five, we think he can make it work somehow. Folds covered "Golden Slumbers" for the I Am Sam soundtrack.





That's how (AJ and) I think it should go down. Questions? Better ideas? Drop me a comment. Or if you're one of the artists listed above, feel free to make this happen.