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Home / The Listening Room March 5, 2007: Jarvis Cocker, Josh Groban, Mike Keneally, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Nick Lowe
A political manifesto from Jarvis Cocker, guilty pleasures, and more in this week's Listening Room...

The Listening Room March 5, 2007: Jarvis Cocker, Josh Groban, Mike Keneally, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Nick Lowe

It's a whole new month in The Listening Room. What a perfect excuse to refresh your iPods with some new music. Perfect may be overstating things a bit. It is as much an excuse as I would ever need. Do you need some suggestions? We've got them.

These may not be the best songs ever, they may not even be our favorites, but they kept us entertained last week. You could do worse than to try a few of them out and see what they do for you.

DJRadiohead: "Running the World" from Jarvis by Jarvis Cocker

I was very late to the Pulp party, to the point where I am only now buying their proper albums. I have been listening to This is Hardcore and We Love Life over and over. I recently got a copy of the UK-only solo album from frontman Jarvis Cocker, Jarvis as well as Pulp's Different Class (Deluxe Edition).

Among the many wonderful songs on Jarvis is a song I am now claiming as my official mantra for a new political party I am forming. It's a little "lefty" for me but it reflects my anti-authority leanings. The BBC banned this song. It should also be noted, friends, that it uses a word that means very different things in the US and the UK. Jarvis is using it in the UK sense.

A. Hathaway: “Machine” from Awake by Josh Groban

Guilty pleasure week. Actually, I haven't been listening to anything until Friday night. But, I put the song on repeat and listened to it five or six times so maybe that makes up for Sunday through Thursday.

A departure from what he usually belts. Has much more of a pop feel to the song. A little fast paced. I didn't like it at first, but as this type of thing usually goes, it grew on me. I know Josh Groban isn't for everyone. Well, unless you are female and between the ages of 12 and 55. I have a feeling most people, fan or not, wouldn't like this song — but I do. So there!

Pico: "Draconian Blump" from Nonkertompf by Mike Keneally

Out of a true grab bag of spontaneous, totally instrumental ideas — "songs" makes it sound too well-formed — comes a track that's highly reminiscent of Miles' In A Silent Way-era experimentations. It's more amazing when you consider that this wasn't a bunch of seasoned musicians getting together to bounce ideas off each other; Keneally played all the instruments and dubbed them together. While Mike is better known as a shredder (he was a stunt guitarist for Zappa), his guitar here is pure pre-Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. Not even Johnny Mac himself plays such incisive guitar like that anymore and it's a pity.

It ends all too abruptly at four minutes; you wouldn't expect Davis' trumpet to enter for another six or seven minutes.

Mat Brewster: “California Stars” from Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg and Wilco

I spent most of this past week lying on my back, with a nasty stomach virus. My mind was too fuzzy to read, and daytime television makes me nauseated on healthy days, so I spent some very quality time with the iPod.

The entire Billy Bragg/Wilco collaboration is a marvelous, eclectic thing And with it’s dreamy lyrics and bright pillowy music, how could I not listen to “California Stars” ad repetum? It just makes you feel better.

Lisa McKay: "(I Love The Sound Of) Breaking Glass" from Basher by Nick Lowe

I first became aware of Nick Lowe via his role as producer of some of Elvis Costello's best albums (including the flawless This Year's Model) and the author of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding", one of Costello's signature tunes that remains a staple of his live performances. In his own right, Lowe, with his roots in Brit pub rock, is a master of the three-minute pop song. This album is a really nice survey of the highlights of Lowe's career from the mid-'70s through the '80s. Full of brisk, incisive, and often humorous lyrics hung on catchy hooks, this is pop music at its unsentimental and uncomplicated best. Basher contains a whopping 25 tunes, and there's not a loser among them. This track is one of my favorites.

Tom Johnson: "I See You" from Hereby Adrian Belew

A coworker of mine has a band that has set out with a specific goal: to avoid the influence of the Beatles. Obviously, he can't be the first musician to attempt such a thing, but it's a noble effort. I just wonder if it really matters.

It doesn't matter to my daughter, that's for sure. Driving along one day, with Adrian Belew's 1994 masterpiece Here playing, I looked in mirror to find her gently swaying to this oh-so-Beatlesesque tune. In her big car seat, she rocked from side to side while gazing out the rear windows to the sound of Adrian and his spot-on Lennon imitation.

So, no, I'm not convinced it matters if a band is obviously copping from the Beatles – and, in fact, sometimes the world just needs more of that.

Michael Jones: "Nothing Left Inside" from My War by Black Flag

"Nothing Left Inside" is slow, churning, and brutally raw. While I'm a huge fan of Henry Rollins and the varied incarnations of the Rollins Band, I don't think he has ever bested the slow ponderous inferno of emotions that he wore on his sleeve during the recording of My War.

"Nothing Left Inside" sounds like what I'd imagine a therapy session for a child of Black Sabbath and the Misfits would sound like… That's if you could ever contain such a child long enough to get it to sit down and talk to someone, as opposed to kneeling down in the middle of the street and growling at the world.

Great song from a band that imploded way too soon.

Brian Garrepy: "500 Channels" from No Gods, No Managers(1999) by Choking Victim

Spawned not only from listening to Choking Victim for a good portion of the week but also from an excerpt from Bill O'Reily's radio show on 96.9 Talk as well as an article posted on this here website;Citizen Fish, 500 ChannelsIs a powerful and catchy track that attacks the ideology of narcissism and low self-esteem. Or in layman's terms, Highs and Lows to the extreme.

But, not to exclude their overall message about corruption and the evil that lies in this country's power to oppress the masses with war and greed and constant references to drugs. Also, let's not forget that it may also imply that your local cable company sucks and that watching that many channels can ultimately lead you to having a shallow existence.

Now, Don't get me wrong, I love the Choking Victim! Their music was impressive, especially for a scene that was about to be watered down with all the mainstream pop-punk. But, I don't necessarily subscribe to all their beliefs and that's fine because music isn't always about following trends or leaders.

Ian Woolstencroft: "Yakuza Girls" from The Last Wave Of Summer by Cold Chisel

Some bands get back together merely to make a ton of cash and no doubt this was also a consideration when Australian rockers Cold Chisel reunited to produce The Last Wave of Summer in 1995. Still the ensuing album can hold its head up high in the company of classics like Circus Animals and East.

Of course it would still have been a worthwhile venture if the only decent song produced was this crude, lewd stomper. While not the greatest song they’ve ever recorded, its 2min 25sec of blistering rock is the kind of thing Jimmy Barnes was born to bawl out.

It transports us to a sleazy bar and gives us the guided tour; you’ll enjoy the visit (although you may want to get checked out by the doctor afterwards). “Who’s that haulin’ on a rubber glove/Yakuza girls and their lookin’ for love” so you’d better beware these “chicks of doom”.

Cara de Pescado: "Dirty Magazine" from More B.S. by Bree Sharp

Bree Sharp doesn’t have the world’s most refined voice, but that is what makes “Dirty Magazine” so much fun. She sings “some girls got class and some girls got dreams” but all she wants is to “be in a dirty magazine.” Something about her slight twang and rawness in her voice adds to her embracing her inner white trash with the attitude of a bad girl doing what she wants. The catchy beat and sophisticated yet witty lyrics make “Dirty Magazine” one of my favorite songs. And yes, it makes me want to be in a dirty magazine too.

Glen Boyd: “Future Games” from Future Games by Fleetwood Mac

Before there was Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, there was Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan, and before them there was the real engine which drove the originally blues based boat that was Fleetwood Mac in the form of the great Peter Green. There is a history lesson in there somewhere that I absolutely promise will be the subject of one of my future "Rockologist" columns, but for now, I've found myself grooving to stuff from the era when Welch helmed this band creatively speaking.

There's a ton of great songs from this era which are great — "Hypnotized" to name the single most noteworthy of them. But Welch's haunting vocal on this one, with the great lyrics of "you invent the future that you want to face," just really stick out for me.

About Josh Hathaway

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