All posts by Jake Brown

Our first real interview: Cherielynn Westrich

I’ve posted something new in our Features section, an interview with multi-talented Cherielynn Westrich, who is most famous for playing Moog and singing with the Rentals. She also writes, sings and plays guitar with her new band, the Slow Signal Fade, and before the Rentals, she had a band called Supersport 2000.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love the first Rentals album. I like the second one too, but it suffers from a lack of focus and the lack of Cherie’s vocals. She rules, so check out the interview and check out the Slow Signal Fade.

Continue reading Our first real interview: Cherielynn Westrich

Big milestone for the site

According to our goofy little counter, Glorious Noise has had 10,000 unique visits (whatever that means) since we started in February. I think that’s pretty cool, and I’d like to thank you all for stopping by. Even if you just got here by searching Google for “Britney Spears fucking.” (It’s true — you’d be amazed by the referrer logs — people are creepy!)

We’ve got our own radio station now so be sure to check it out. It’s served up by Live365, who — despite their barrage of ads — might go out of business any day now, so get it while you can. There’s a version of it for people with broadband connections and one for people with slower connections. We will be swapping in new songs every couple of weeks or so until we get bored with it and then it will probably just stay stagnant. But there’s over four hours of music, so rock on.

Also, recently there’s been some activity in the message boards, so please go in there and participate. That’s what Glorious Noise is all about. Well, at least that’s part of it. Some of it is just us making noise, but we want to hear your noise too, so get in there are rant!

Anyway, thanks to all our readers for making this site as “successful” as it is. I guess I would define success to mean that it feels worth the time and effort that we’re putting into it. If it stops feeling worth it, we’ll stop doing it. If it’s not 100% fun, right? Thanks again. We love you all.

Yeah, I talked to Jeff Tweedy last night

I did actually. Wilco was on WXRT’s Sound Opinions last night and I called in and got through. I was taking notes on the show for an article in Glorious Noise, so I didn’t have time to think of a decent question to ask, so I asked a dumb one. At least that’s my excuse. I’m not very familiar with the whole radio talk-show call-in technique. I should have had something prepared. But I didn’t. Oh well. I still talked to Jeff Tweedy last night.

It was a cool show. They played some songs live in the studio and talked a lot. The hosts, Greg Kot from the Chicago Tribune and Jim DeRogatis from the Chicago Sun-Times, are obviously big fans of the band and big music geeks, so the show had a comfortable, laid back atmosphere. They talked about last Tuesday’s events and how it changes the way we listen to Wilco’s new album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. “A lot of weight has been added to a lot of music,” Tweedy said, when asked about the significance of the song “War on War.” “Music is all about spirit,” he said, and that the message of that song is “working towards less fear is the only way to live” and that you’ve got to “learn how to fail.”

Jeff TweedyThey talked about how they’re going on their upcoming tour because the new record is out now. Unofficially, of course, but everybody who wants to hear has already heard it. In fact, they’re streaming the whole album from their official website. It’s so insane that Reprise wouldn’t release this album. Apparently, after they sent the final mixes to the label, Reprise responded by saying that they “don’t hear it,” according to Tweedy. Not even the record label cliché, “We don’t hear the single.” They straight up didn’t hear it, the fucking morons. When asked when and where it was going to come out, Tweedy said, “It will come out eventually and actually it’s out there now. It’s a fact of life right now that once one person gets it, everyone can have it.” They’ve come to accept this apparently. “Music needs a listener,” Tweedy said. But we better not hold our breath for it to be released officially. Not this year anyway according to the band. They’re still “trying to figure out some ways to put it out,” whatever that means.

Then they got around to the subject of the changing line-up. By this time I was on the phone on hold, trying to think of something decent to ask. So I couldn’t take notes very well, but I did catch a few things. “People grow in different directions at different speeds. Things change. Friends leave.” And when asked what he thought about how some of the fans freaked out about Bennett leaving, Tweedy said, “I understand why people feel that way. People don’t like change. Ken [Coomer, former drummer] and Jay contributed an enormous amount to the band.”

Then it was time for some calls. They took mine. “Jake’s got a question for you guys.” I stumbled around for a second trying to thank them for not making me feel guilty about downloading the new album. “You should still feel guilty,” Tweedy said to me. Ha ha, everyone laughed. They told me that they hope I buy the album when it comes out. “Oh I will, I will,” I said like the nerdy little fan that I am. Then they plugged their website some more and tried to remember its address. Then I asked my question, “I’ve heard that Jay had, like, hundreds of guitars and stuff. Do you guys have any equipment left?” Yup, that’s what I came up with. Tweedy snickered a little and said something like “We’re doing all right” or something like that. The hosts said something like “You should see their rehearsal space. There’s this giant wall of guitars,” and Tweedy sighed, “Not anymore…” So it was kind of funny. The next guy who called asked something far more intelligent and interesting, but I don’t remember what it was.

Then they started on their Desert Island Disks feature. Tweedy immediately threw out “I Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates” by Melanie. Leroy Bach wanted “The Cricketer” by Roy Harper. John Stirrat requested Colin Blunstone’s “Say You Don’t Mind.” Glenn Kotche said he would have picked “Sister Ray” but instead he opted for a song by the English psychedelic band, Patto. Tweedy then officially chose “Don’t be So Fearful” by Bill Fay from his 1971 album, Time of Last Persecution.

Then it was 11:30 pm, and although the show was going to go on for another hour, I am a working stiff, so I had to get some sleep. Too bad my cassette deck and all my blank tapes are in storage, otherwise I would have taped it.

Obsession, Insanity and Fanaticism

There’s a new article about Syd Barrett on Last Plane to Jakarta. As with the vast majority of John Darnielle’s writing, this piece is at times hilarious and insightful and celebratory and sad. He hits pretty close to home for me in one of his famous “footnotes” discussing the track, “Opel” which remained unreleased until 1988:

It was a great moment for music, but a terrible moment for obsessive people around the world. For years we’d wondered what might lay gathering dust on some London studio shelf or in a Cambridge bedroom — what hidden treasures, what lost masterpieces? When sub-par material is unearthed, there’s hope for us: perhaps someday we’ll learn to enjoy what we have and stop losing sleep wondering whether there are unreleased full-band recordings from the Birthday Party’s final, turbulent, incredible year together. Perhaps we will stop digging through the endless morass of the internet trying to find Joy Division bootlegs we haven’t heard yet. (There are none.) Then something like “Opel” turns up — a lost recording that confirms the possibility that the very best stuff is still unheard. There is no hope for us, my friends. We are doomed to our sad record-collector existences.

I’ve done my share of obsessing. And I can tell you that it’s not healthy. I’ve driven myself pretty close to the edge of some fairly Syd-like insanity over some bands in my day. And it’s bad. You end up burning yourself out after while. That’s why you’ve got to learn to take it slow. Take it easy. You gotta just get it under control. Can stop any time. I’m still a record collecting addict, but I’ve learned to manage my addiction.

I went through a phase in high school when I bought every Smiths twelve-inch. That was a difficult thing to do on a part-time dishwasher’s wages in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Thank God for Vinyl Solution and Zak’s Diner, I guess. Herm at Vinyl kept that Smiths bin well-stocked and my Zak’s let me work just enough to buy my records. After I owned everything ever released (the elusive “This Charming Man” single was the final Holy Grail), I stopped listening to them. Almost completely. Only recently have I let them back into my life again. Slowly. And with an objectively critical ear. Johnny Marr’s production doesn’t sound nearly as perfect to me as it used to. It sounds muddy and overproduced a lot of times. You don’t really need twenty-five layers of guitar parts on one song, do you? And Morrissey’s lyrics which I once swallowed hook, line and stinker now mostly sound overdramatic and silly. But there are moments that cut through the nostalgia and still stand up on their own. “I Know It’s Over” is still a beautiful song. My man Phil is working on an extended feature about people’s continuing obsession with the Smiths. I look forward to seeing what he uncovers in the souls of all those people who are still feeling what I once felt.

Hunter Thompson for president in 2004

Hunter Thompson for president in 2004

He never claimed to be anything but a nice guy and an athlete… And now Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is finally back on ESPN Page 2 after his summer vacation:

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed — for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won’t hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.

Good luck. He is in for a profoundly difficult job — armed as he is with no credible Military Intelligence, no witnesses and only the ghost of Bin Laden to blame for the tragedy.

Yes, indeed. I think it’s time I pack up my wife and dogs and move to Woody Creek and start my own compound. Weekly updates from this political guru are not nearly enough to keep me fixed up. I need a fat shot of HST!

Please stop flying into buildings

Please stop flying into buildings

God help us. I get into work today to find a group of people staring at the television. Just as I realize that the smoking building is the World Trade Center, I see a plane fly right into the second tower and explode. Live on tv.

All the major news websites are totally down right now. Either overwhelmed or just plain off. This is fucked up.

The latest problem with music

It’s really a shame that Steve Albini’s famous article from 1994, The Problem with Music, is now more applicable than ever. I’d love to read an updated version of this article with sections dealing with how studio engineers, producers and label executives convince bands to “fix” all their mistakes with computer programs such as ProTools, thereby removing any trace of “soul” from the recordings. Check out this handy feature of the latest version of ProTools:

Automatic Tempo Detection and Conforming
The new Beat Detective™ feature saves hours of editing time by analyzing a performance, intelligently correcting timing, then automatically smoothing the edits.

Isn’t that nifty? No longer does your drummer need to keep a beat! He can be all over the place and the computer program will “intelligently correct” it. Never mind the fact that the occasional, subtle change of tempo can add to the emotional atmosphere of a recording. Just ask Ringo Starr. To quote Beatles producer, George Martin: “…[A]lthough Ringo does not keep time with a metronome accuracy, he has unrivaled feel for a song. If his timing fluctuates, it invariably does so in the right place at the right time, keep the right atmosphere going on the track and give it a rock solid foundation.”

And how about the Pitch Doctor plug-in, also known as the Pitch Bitch? “When an out-of-tune performance is a problem, PitchDoctor is nothing less than a session-saving miracle. Simply enter the desired key and scale, and Pitch Doctor automatically adjusts the intonation of any out-of-tune notes.” This of course is how the WB channel can take four obviously talentless girls and turn them into Popstars. If you watched any of that show, you could tell from the finalists’ auditions that it was going to take a great deal of studio trickery to make these gals sound slick.

Slick. Polished. Professional. That’s what these new tools can make your band sound like. I would be willing to bet that the Beat Detective and the Pitch Bitch were used on the new Weezer album, stripping it of the soul and charm that the Blue Album — whose formula the new album copied to the letter — had by the boatload. And they’re used by every major label band out there. And by a lot of indies too. Slick. Polished. Professional. Isn’t that great! Isn’t that what rock and roll is all about?