HomePosts Tagged "Matt Springer"

Matt Springer Tag

[caption id="attachment_119654" align="alignleft" width="270"] They've done just what they set out to do[/caption] Summer movies usually demand a great suspension of disbelief. They’re heavy on special effects and deal with outlandish situations, whether superheroes and sci-fi or wacky gross-out extreme comedy. There is, perhaps, no greater suspension

It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover.  But what exactly are the ingredients for a great cover?

There’s no secret recipe.  Some of the songs below are great because they completely deconstruct the original, stripping it down to its most basic components of chords and lyrics, and build it back up again in a completely different style.  For others, the genius of the original song was always present but the presentation was lacking, and when the talents of a different performer are added, the song gains a gravity that it didn’t have in its original form.  And some of them, whether by generational ignorance or through the general obscurity of the original artist, simply didn’t receive the exposure they needed for their greatness to be recognized until they were delivered by a more familiar voice.  But the finest of these, the ones we love the best, are simply great songs by great artists where the addition of a new twist and a new voice creates something that is greater than the sum of its parts.  You can hear and recognize the glory of the original version in every note of the cover, but the listening experience is taken to another level through the talents of the covering artist.

The process for generating our list was fairly simple.  We created a huge list (800+ songs) of nominees, and each of the authors that participated selected their own top 100.  Those top 100 lists were weighted on a curve and used to generate the list that you see below.  Next week, we’ll publish a separate “honorable mention” post featuring some of the songs that didn’t earn enough votes to make the list, but were important enough to individual authors that we wanted to make sure they received some attention as well.  If you’ve got a Spotify account, you can listen to most of the originals here, and the cover versions here.  If you don’t have an account yet, you can request an invitation (they issue them pretty promptly now).  Enjoy! — Zack Dennis

Bob Dylan is 70 years old. That statement is at once momentous, and irrelevant. Irrelevant because Dylan has always seemed to stand apart from any mere concept of time. While he has certainly aged physically, he is as alive in the flesh, and in our memories, as he ever has been.

It is hard to think of a public figure who has been the object of as much speculation as Dylan. Some of it was honestly come by, other parts by digging through his trash cans for clues. When it came time for Todd Haynes to make I’m Not There, he had to cast six different actors to play Dylan because although no one really knows who Dylan is, he is everyone.

Recently, in a rare posting on his official website, he said “Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.”

Envy Bruce Springsteen. He not only releases two of the definitive albums of the 1970s (Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town), but even found time to fire off top forty hits for other artists between records (“Fire,” “Because the Night”). As it turns out, he also had upwards of forty unreleased songs from the same era sitting around in the vaults waiting for their day in the sun.

A handful of those forty-plus vault tunes made it out on the four-CD Tracks compilation in 1998, and now another twenty-two songs will see release on The Promise: The Lost Sessions from Darkness On The Edge Of Town. It’s a two-disc collection that also factors as a major component of an epic boxed set celebrating the release and recording of the Darkness record. That box features a documentary, tons of live and studio footage, and the remastered Darkness album itself, alongside these twenty-two songs.

It’s enough to make a Brucehead drool with anticipation, sure, but should an average fan of the Boss and his music care?

Even if you’re one of those folks with an old beat-up copy of Born to Run in your CD rack and little else from Springsteen, The Promise is a pretty amazing compilation. It takes the listener down any number of potential avenues where Springsteen’s music could have gone in the period between his great romantic opus to pop potential, Born to Run, and his stark exploration of the end of that road, Darkness on the Edge of Town.

To some, he is the Flanneled One. The Bearded One. Baron Papanoida. The Maker.

To others, he is a former mythmaker who has since surrendered any pretense of creative integrity in a fool’s quest to sell toys, or maintain absolute control, or whatever he really wants deep beneath his plentiful chins.

To most of you, he’s just the guy who made the Star Wars movies, George Lucas.

The faithful, recent converts, and lapsed followers alike gathered in Orlando, Florida, this past Saturday for what was billed as “The Main Event”–an hourlong sitdown with Lucas, hosted by The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart. It was part of Star Wars Celebration V, a four-day party for Star Wars geeks, the kind of thing where if you’re into it, no explanation is necessary, and if you’re not, no explanation will suffice.

I don’t know who was the driving force behind recruiting Stewart as interviewer; it could have been an idea hatched by the show’s organizers, Reed Exhibitions, or something concocted by Lucasfilm. It was a masterful idea, as Stewart is a great interviewer, and he set exactly the right tone. He focused on fan questions, but not in a way that paid pure fan service; whether you own albums from Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes or you wouldn’t recognize a mynock if it slapped you in the face, you could relax and enjoy the conversation. He also stirred in many moments of welcome humor, and if there’s anyone who can always take themselves a little less seriously, it’s geeks.

I currently have 1,884 albums on my 160GB iPod. I will listen to them all, in no particular order, and write about them.

Punch the Clock is an album often dismissed by die-hard Elvis Costello fans, and I’m not completely sure why.

But that’s a conversation for another day. In 1983, EC was touring behind the record, bringing a combo on the road that included the Attractions at its core (Steve Nieve, king of the keyboard jungle; Pete Thomas, the Empire State of stick; Bruce Thomas, the future of the four-string) but added to the mix the TKO Horns, all former members of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. (Appropriate, since the producers of Punch the Clock, Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley, had just a year before produced Too-Rye-Ay for Dexy’s, including the smash hit “Come On, Eileen”). On some dates, the backing singers featured on Punch the Clock, a duo known as Afrodiziak, also joined the band.

The Ultimate Gangster (expanding upon the old bootleg The Gangster is Back) documents an entire concert from the Punch the Clock tour’s stop at the University of Texas in Austin. The entire show was broadcast on FM radio; as such, there’s an added level of excitement in the air, and you can hear the band and Elvis laying it all on the line with every track. It is righteous and awesome.

Costello has always been a musical chameleon; in his earliest shows, he wasn’t afraid to trot out a subdued Bacharach/David cover amid the punk posturing, and his 1981 release Almost Blue brought him to Nashville to record a straight-up country record. The Ultimate Gangster finds him in full-on soul revue mode, lathering horn parts onto not just tracks from his then-current record but on classics and obscurities from his back catalog.

My first inclination upon seeing the teaser trailer for Zack Snyder’s upcoming film Sucker Punch was to post a series of boob jokes to Twitter.

That’s not surprising. My response to most things is either a boob joke or a dick joke.

After giving the footage a closer look, however, it struck me that there actually isn’t much boobage to speak of. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of oversexualization of women on display; if you don’t have a sword or a slutty outfit, you don’t belong in this film. Preferably, you need both. It’s just not one of those “HOLY HOOTERS” type of movies.

But it’s still scummy, oh yes, and that’s based on just 90 seconds of it, so sure, I’m prejudging a film based on its teaser trailer. Welcome to the Internet.

The news spread across my Twitter feed late yesterday afternoon like a pixelated wildfire:

1) Liz Phair had a new single out;

2) It was fucking horrible.

These things are true. Liz Phair does apparently have a new “single” out, a freebie cut from an Internet-only album she’s selling from her website entitled Funstyle; and that single, “Bollywood,” is fucking horrible.

The rest of Funstyle does not go as quietly into the good night; it’s not the wholesale career suicide that “Bollywood” seems to indicate. There are moments that finally fit into the context of Liz Phair’s career; I say “finally” because I personally have a hard time fitting her last record, Somebody’s Miracle, into that same context, so it almost feels to me like she’s been “gone” since her self-titled controversy magnet of 2003.

(Which I’ve written about before, so I won’t get into it again, but if you dismiss that record as “Liz Phair trying to be Avril Lavigne,” you are absolutely missing out, and you need to listen closely to it again without whatever baggage you bring to it based on its production style and how it fits into the pop music landscape of its time. It’s a rocking, thoughtful, sly and revelatory pop record by a thirtysomething divorced mother completely in command of her creative and musical powers.)

The problem is that the good stuff on Funstyle does not fit comfortably with the weird shitty stuff, except in the possible sense that they all at least attempt what Liz Phair has always been so good at–marrying her interior life with universal truths, and universal truths back to her interior life, in a way that’s both confessional and relatable at the same time.

zoom_777290[1]See, now this is what Fanboys wanted to be.

The debut novel (or novella, as somewhat grumpily conceded in the Author’s Note) from AlertNerd‘s Matt Springer, Unconventional is, according to the front cover’s helpful summary, “a tale of sex, booze, and geeks”…pretty much in that order. And as unappealing as a book filled with drunk, naked nerds might seem, Springer makes it work, thanks to his effortlessly conversational writing and a plot that actually has less to do with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings than it lets on.

The story follows a sci-fi-loving trio of longtime friends (Marty, Ron, and Ham — a nickname, short for Hammerhead, as in the minor Star Wars character) on their adventures through one weekend at the UnConvention, “Chicagoland’s number one sci-fi con,” working in plenty of basement-dwelling misfits in Jedi costumes while building toward a few life-changing decisions for the main characters. It’s a framework you’re probably overly familiar with — as you’ll be with Unconventional‘s habit of flashing back and forth between past and present in order to give the reader additional context — and pop metaculture has been drowning in geek heroes for years. At a fundamental level, the book is utterly ordinary, and it shouldn’t work as well as it does — but unlike most writers who dabble in geekdom, Springer actually has something to say, and instead of just presenting his characters as empty vessels for Klingon jokes, he uses them to deliver some trenchant, poignant messages about making the awkward transition into adulthood, and the nature of fandom in general.