Worthwhile Jazz Deconstructions of Songs You Probably Know

(note: None of the songs are actually ON the Jazz and 80’s album, I just think it’s a cool cover.  Also sex sells.  Not that I’m selling anything.)

I was just listening to this brand new Jazz album by the Vijay Iyer Trio, and on it they have a great cover of Micheal Jackson’s Human Nature.  I love how they keep the song recognizable, but then evolve into their own exploration of the song’s musical themes.  I think that a good jazz cover respects the original song, but still tears it apart and puts it back together again somehow.

It made me think of several songs that do something similar that I’ve come to appreciate over the years.

The Bad Plus is probably the most famous for their Smells Like Teen Spirit cover, which is great, but I’m partial to their amazing cover of the Tears For Fears song, Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

Of course I had to have a Beatles song, and there’s no lack of Beatles covers of any genre in this world, but I particularly like the somewhat insane version of A Day In The Life by Grant Green.

Charlie Hunter’s Come As You Are cover starts with the Smells Like Teen Spirit riff, but is in fact a groovy cover of the (slightly) lesser known song.

The rest, just enjoy.  I think every one has a little something special.

Listen as a playlist:

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/04-Human-Nature1.mp3,http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/01-Everybody-Wants-To-Rule-The-World.mp3,http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/05-A-Day-In-The-Life.mp3,http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/11-Live-to-Tell.mp3, http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/04-Come-As-You-Are.mp3,http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/01-Knives-Out.mp3,http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/03-Isobel.mp3|titles=Vijay Iyer Trio – Human Nature,The Bad Plus – Everybody Wants To Rule The World,Grant Green – A Day In The Life,Bill Frisell – Live to Tell,Charlie Hunter Trio – Come As You Are,Brad Mehldao Trio – Knives Out,Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Isobel]

Or listen to the songs individually:

Human Nature (Micheal Jackson) as covered by the Vijay Iyer Trio

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/04-Human-Nature1.mp3|titles=Vijay Iyer Trio – Human Nature]

Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears) as covered by The Bad Plus

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/01-Everybody-Wants-To-Rule-The-World.mp3|titles=The Bad Plus – Everybody Wants To Rule The World]

A Day in the Life (The Beatles) as covered by Grant Green

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/05-A-Day-In-The-Life.mp3|titles=Grant Green – A Day In The Life]

Live To Tell (Madonna) as covered by the Bill Frisell

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/11-Live-to-Tell.mp3|titles=Bill Frisell – Live to Tell]

Come As You Are (Nirvana) as covered by the Charlie Hunter Trio

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/04-Come-As-You-Are.mp3|titles=Charlie Hunter Trio – Come As You Are]

Day is Done (Radiohead) as covered by the Brad Mehldao Trio

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/01-Knives-Out.mp3|titles=Brad Mehldao Trio – Knives Out]

Isobel (Björk) as covered by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/03-Isobel.mp3|titles=Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Isobel]
this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Worthwhile Jazz Deconstructions of Songs You Probably Know
it's categorized as: Reviews, Songs
link to it, please: Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

California is one of my favorite albums ever (Mr. Bungle)

California is probably the most normal and approachable album Mike Patton (also of Faith No More) ever made, which is to say, it’s one of the oddest and most off-putting albums most people will experience.

Mr. Bungle was Mike Patton’s high school band, but me and my teenage friends didn’t find out about him until Faith No More’s epic song and video, Epic came out.  things explode, Mike Patton punches himself in the head, and a fish (evidently given to them by Björk?!) flops about in exquisite suffocation.  This song blew our minds, and it wasn’t long before someone had a copy of the self-titled first album by Mr. Bungle.

Mr. Bungle (the album) is an insane free-jazz heavy-metal carnival.  We loved it mostly as a novelty album, with its hilarious porn samples and rollercoaster ride music, but it wasn’t until years later that I heard California.

I think the two biggest influences on California are cheesy lounge music and surf-rock, but as always, Mr. Bungle sometimes (d)evolves into pure avant-garde noise.  While some of the songs are truly purely beautiful, most are some kind of wild ride.

Air-Conditioned Nightmare – This is a great song to start with because it inhabits all the madness, beauty and tormented Beach Boys ethos that the album creates.  The song begins with clattering percussion, and Mike Patton doing some singing that would have fit in on Pet Sounds.   Then, at about the :40 minute mark, it gets twisted, and there’s a rapid-fire change to some perverse doo-wop-ing / surf-metal guitar / mechanical pleas to “get me out of this air-conditioned nightmare”.   Then at about the 3:00 mark, acts sincere, as if he were just trying to sing a beautiful song the whole time, finally introducing the final theme of the song, asking sweetly “where’s my rainbow?  where’s my halo?”

Pink Cigarette – Possibly the most straightforwardly gorgeous song on the whole album, Mike croons over vocal choruses and gentle surf rock, a tale of a cuckolded man contemplating impending suicide after his wife leaves him with only a pink cigarette on the bed:  “How can I forget that your lips were there?Your kiss goes everywhere, touches everything but me.”  So perfectly pathetic and campy, but perhaps marred by the obvious heart monitor sounds at the end.

 Goodbye Sober Day – The album’s closer, it’s notable for it’s appropriation of an Indonesian chanting style near the end.  After a spooky song cycle, all the air is sucked out of the song at about the 2:10 mark, and Mike Patton does his approximation of Kecak, a Balinese chant used partially to depict a war between Rama and the evil king Ravana (only like a heavy-metal version).

None of Them Knew They Were Robots – I wish I knew enough about music to know what the hell is happening here.  I won’t suffer to narrate all the twists and turns of this song but there’s a lot to listen here, including a doomish chant of Deus absconditus  and Deus nullus deus nisi deus.  It’s about science, religeon, nanotechnology, gnostic wisdom, god knows what else.

Vanity Fair – I’ll go out on a sweet note, cause “you’re not human, you’re a miracle!”

If this appeals to you at all, please get and listen to this whole album in all of it’s gorgeous glory.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s one for the ages.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: California is one of my favorite albums ever (Mr. Bungle)
it's categorized as: _ My Personal Classics, Albums, Reviews
link to it, please: Friday, April 13th, 2012

Some Widely Loved Artists I Don’t Love

I’m always so goddamned positive here on the Snob. I don’t usually like to bother to write about things unless I love them, but I think it’s worth mentioning that I don’t in fact love everything. Plus, it’s a critic’s job to be contrary so, I’m going to give it a shot.

Elvis Costello

So many music lovers revere this guy to the stars, but sadly I feel like I have to force myself to listen to a whole album. My respect for Elvis just went up a couple of notches when I heard him cover Fiona Apple’s amazing and amazingly underrated song I Know:

I could tell that he loved the song, and knew every word and inflection, and hit every single one of its incredible high points. It’s not the first time I’ve thought “I should give Elvil Costello a chance” though.

To me he just sounds hopelessly dated, and nothing really makes his songwriting or performing stand out for me in a way that makes me want to listen to it.

Song I do actually like: Alison


OK, now I know this is going to be a divisive one. There’s definitely some Radiohead I like. I know they’re the ultimate in modern rock brilliance. I’ve really loved a lot of what they’ve done.

Who would have every guessed that a band destined to become a one-hit-wonder from Creep, would switch it up and become one of the most universally acknowledged rock success geniuses ever.

When I put on OK, Computer, one of their undisputed masterworks, all I can think is “Goddamn, can this dude whine!” I feel like he generated this whole generation of first world problem whiners who think intelligently howling about the injustices and plastic-ness of the world is the highest of art.

Sometimes liking music has to do with wanting to inhabit the psychic landscape it creates. I rarely seem to want to live in Radioheadland.

Song I do actually like: Reckoner

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/07-Reckoner.mp3|titles=Radiohead – Reckoner]


These guys blew my mind when I was first aware of them, which wasn’t until I was 15 and videos started popping up on MTV. I wasn’t sure whether to like or hate Losing My Religion when it came out (ended up liking it) or Stand / Shiny Happy People (ended up hating it).

I’ve tried to go back and listen to some of their classic College Rock era albums like Eponymous and Life’s Rich Pageant. Much like Elvis Costello I just felt like these guys were outdated by the time I got to them. I liked it, but people seemed to regard their old stuff with a certain level of worship that I just could never comprehend.

Song I actually like: Fall on Me


I didn’t actually realize how huge and ubiquitous Jay-Z was until well after his prime. Now, his sad, late career verses sound pretty pathetic next to Kanye West at the absolute top of his songwriting game. There’s Kanye talking absolutely insane shit, always something new, while Jay-Z is still playing up the fact that he used to sell crack in another lifetime and that he’s really huge.

Yeah, back in the day he wrote some good songs on Blueprint and The Black Album for sure. But even then, I just can’t quite fathom how he managed to become this unbelievable multi-platinum success. He does have that wide, expansive voice, and his lyrics are never too challenging.

Song I actually like: Takeover

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/02-Takeover.mp3|titles=Jay-Z – Takeover]


I want to love Queen, I really do. I love the idea of flamboyant gay rockers doing operatic imaginative way-before-its-time rock and blowing apart the world. I love plenty of their anthems. I, too, watched Wayne’s World and thought, “Holy crap, I’ve heard that song before I but I didn’t realize what a mega-world-destroying beast it was!”

I love all the talk about fat bottomed girls riding bicycles. I love that a band with a gay lead singing became the stadium stomper for America’s most red-blooded manly sport.

However, when I listen to an actual album, the pomp and bombast just overwhelm the actual songs for me. They’re vamping and camping with a million things going on at once like some grand poncy circus.

Song I actually like: Killer Queen

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/02-Killer-Queen.mp3|titles=Queen – Killer Queen]

Neil Young

I tried to find this old comic from Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper where Neil Young says something like, “You business fellas worry about doing what you’re best at: making money, and I’ll go back to doing when I’m best at: warbling like an old goose.”

There is no doubt that Neil is a prolific and powerful songwriter. I hear his recent album about an electric car was really good.

He is clearly a passionate and insightful hippie who’s worked with some incredibly talented people and can obviously make magic with just himself and a guitar.

Only one problem, I could just never bring myself to put on one of his albums again. He is someone I have actively tried to like and “get”. I had Harvest Moon on vinyl, I tried to get into After The Gold Rush and Tonight’s The Night, but I couldn’t quite get over the goose warble.

Song I actually like: Heart of Gold

Win Me Over?

Do you want to change my mind on any of these artists? Pick me out a 3 song playlist and send it to me for any of these artists and I’ll give it a shot.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Some Widely Loved Artists I Don’t Love
it's categorized as: Reviews
link to it, please: Thursday, April 5th, 2012

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