by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Department of Eagles - "No One Does It Like You". A new track by Department of Eagles, Grizzly Bear's terrific sibling band, something that is to my ears a song of infidelity - and yet so deliciously laid back, so warm and easy, so calm & affectionate that it's hard to find even a lick of frustration. Like Grizzly Bear's cover of "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)" (posted last week), "No One Does It..." was inspired by the ridiculously cheap Phil Spector Back to Mono box-set. But although "No One"'s got a modest Wall of Sound, all jingle, clap & whistle, the doo-wop chain-gang reminds me mostly of The Inkspots, facing melancholy with a smile.

[more of the Dept of Eagles]

Avril Lavigne - "Hot". I'm always a little wary of power chords. They're like firebombs, binoculars, high tens: they need to be used judiciously, only with the most appropriate of ends. Avril's usage is not just appropriate, it's wholly righteous. Here's a song about kick-ass love, about oh-yes love, like running for three hundred years in order to build up momentum for one enormous long-distance leap, straight into a beloved's arms. It's a jubilant, Evel Knievel kind of love, with a chorus that justifies whatever weaponry it can get. "You make me so hot / you make me want to drop / you're so ridiculous / I can barely stop / I can hardly breathe / you make me want to scream / you're so fabulous / you're so good to me!" And while obviously the lyrics are secondary, an adolescent articulation of something deep, majestic, chest-and-belly, I do admire one of these plain lines. "You're so ridiculous," she sings, with an affection that's almost desperate, and this is a statement that feels true & real and so familiar to how I feel, yeah me right here, when I sweat with love's hottest fevers.

Like "Umbrella" or "Crazy in Love", "Hot" is a declamatory (or maybe exclamatory) song. In rock and folk music, the trend among love-songs is usually to serenade, to win someone's love or else to whisper private truths about why they're so dear. "Hot" uses another model: it's a heart icon and an exclamation mark, an adoring shout, a public celebration of one particular love. (It's the valentine that trails a jetplane.)

The Best Damn Thing makes Avril Lavigne 3 for 3 - maybe the best stats in pop-punk? (And "Girlfriend"'s amazing.) [buy]



It's Avril Lavigne Day - Fluxblog's writing about "The Best Damn Thing", and while you're there grab the great Half-Cousin song, too.

Tuwa's unkind to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. :(

Posted by Sean at April 10, 2007 8:41 AM

First "Umbrella" and now this? Are you turning into Fluxblog?

Posted by Slothrop at April 10, 2007 9:42 AM

Wow. I'm impressed. Scoffers are already present (c.f. Slothrop, whom I'll use just for ease, though they are probably just kidding), but I applaud. Avril Lavigne has been a guilty pleasure for me since "Complicated", once the brilliance of her mispronunciation of 'frustrated' as "frus-TRA-ted" dawned on me. I believe that the single from her second album failed to impress, but on your bidding, ("3/3") I'll be taking another look. And yes, "Girlfriend" is awesome. It's like "Mickey" with some faint memory of The Slits. Now I'll have to get the album. Last note: It's okay if you want to write about pop songs, this blog is about good songs; we have to forgive them for appearing in the mainstream. I mean, technically, The Arcade Fire are mainstream now; we don't begrudge them it. True, Avril's work is not The Arcade Fire's (has she ever heard Talking Heads? It could go either way.). Mainstream music or pop or whatever should not be anathema. It can be listened to, like all music, critically. This doesn't mean dismissively, it means carefully. There IS a lot of crap out there to swallow (as a remedy for this, I recommend the band "Swallowing Shit"), but if we tread carefully, we can find the gold in the sludge, diamonds in the rough, and other concealed treasures. True, Avril doesn't need our money - having recently bought a great big hoose somewhere in the dreamy Hollywood Hills or something. But this can't be our criterion. Michael Jackson certainly doesn't need our money (and maybe even shouldn't get it) but if you don't have copies of Off The Wall and Thriller, then I guess we won't be doing what we did last night ever again. Jay-Z doesn't need our money, but check the Black Album. I could go on and on, but since I have already gone on, I'll cease. At least let there be space for this music. I don't think that Sean is all of a sudden getting kickbacks; we'll see if the label reacts in time, as well (double-bluff? In any case...). So: hear Avril thanks to Sean and I'll add him to the list of friends who like her. Right now, the list is me, Sean, and Sundar, who, incidentally, is also my only friend who also likes Loverboy and Rough Trade. With a few more peeps we could start a fellowship of fools.

Posted by Joel Taylor at April 10, 2007 11:06 AM

Oh my God, Sean, are you turning into ME???????

Posted by Matthew at April 10, 2007 1:19 PM

"So: hear Avril thanks to Sean and I'll add him to the list of friends who like her. Right now, the list is me, Sean, and Sundar, who, incidentally, is also my only friend who also likes Loverboy and Rough Trade. With a few more peeps we could start a fellowship of fools."

I usually lurk on this blog, so I'm just popping in to say that you can add me to that list of friends/fools. I liked your sort-of essay there - it's nice to know that genuine love of music is not necessarily snobbery (which unfortunately is the all-too-common mindset on music blogs now).

And I LOVE "Working for the Weekend." hehe.

Posted by Joanne at April 10, 2007 3:27 PM

Sure, maybe some of her songs are okay. But it bugs me how she's never been taken to task or held responsible for being the biggest most blatant liar ever, about writing her own songs! Her ignorant-brattiness distubs whatever "pleasure" I could get from her "art." So it's irratating she's rewarded as having any more credibilty then hilary duff, ashlee simpson, et. all.

Posted by cameron at April 10, 2007 4:09 PM

I thought i had you figured out. Of all the music curators out there, i've found that (over the past 3 years) your tastes match up pretty well with mine. I listened, then listened again - then read your description again --- trying to understand. I don't, really. One thing, i do like the line "you're so ridiculous," at least we have that in common. Here's to you doing what you do! Post whatever you want, i always listen.

Posted by ben at April 10, 2007 4:30 PM

Omfg ponies!

Let me translate: I love Department of Eagles. But I have been a lazy, lazy fan and don't really buy music any more (talk to the seven thousand pieces of vinyl in my garage and get back to me if this is an issue). Anyhow, I see you posted something of theirs, so I clicked eagerly, and what do I hear but the first eight notes, letter perfect, of the Television Personalities' "Three Wishes".

I really, really, really love the TVPs.

And that is one of my favorites of theirs. Lord, that whole LP is something, like a love song to depression that actually makes you get out of bed.

So, omfg ponies.

Anyhow, as usual the DoE do not disappoint. I am baffled that they are not playing stadiums from here to Singapore, but then that's how I felt about the TVPs when I first heard them. The latter even released an LP entitled, "They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles." There's a reason. They could have. In a universe where I am the median music fan, anyway.

As for the powerchord followup, whatever. I don't see why it got so much commentary. I have a bunch of ACDC LPs for a reason, and those first two Sleeper singles were just aces, but Ms. L. just leaves me cold. Maybe it's the bad, doubletracked vocals. And do I hear an Auto-Tune at work on them, or is it just too much bad digital echo? The Auto-Tune is either the worst thing ever, or the best. I still can't decide. Either way, it doesn't rescue this song. Give me Sheryl Crow any day. Now that woman can write a pop song. Or freaking Ace of Base. If you write a pop song it should have a chance to be number one in twelve countries. Does this?


Posted by wcw at April 10, 2007 5:39 PM

Thanks for the compliment, Joanne. You're in!

Posted by Joel Taylor at April 11, 2007 1:43 AM

Hooray, I'm in with the sophistimacated peoples! XD

Wow, Wow (lol), you and everyone else are hitting all my "guilty pleasure" favourites today, except that I was never guilty for liking them. (I was eight when Ace of Base was popular, so I can always use that as a defense.)

Cameron, Avril's been taken to task loads of times, from what I've seen. People give her way more crap than is due. She's not the best writer ever, and she does get help from a songwriting team, but her lyrics are better than I can do. hehe. (I can't write anything at all, much to my dismay.)

At least her voice is less irritating than La Duff's.

Posted by Joanne at April 11, 2007 4:22 AM

i'm really surprised by this reaction, actually. this isn't the first time i've sung Avril's praises, nor even (i think) the first time i've posted her music. StG has a long, long history of posting pop. the only reason we don't see more is that we try to post "things our readers probably haven't heard", and i don't have my ear to the ground (like, say, Matt-fluxblog does) with regard to bleeding-edge teenpop/dancepop etc.

I'm also surprised we're having the conversation about whether it's ok to like pop music! As Joel says, of course it is. I don't hear many indie-kids who are aghast at, say, Billie Holiday or Elvis Presley, both of whom sang songs they didn't write. I don't give a toss about who wrote Avril's material, and to be honest I hate the personality i've seen in interviews, but i like her songs a great deal, period. (see also: 50 Cent, whose stuff i'm a big fan of.)

and Ben, i do hope if you haven't already had it you soon have yr pop epiphany. there's so much to love in that realm of things. different pleasures are accentuated but they're pleasures nonetheless, and no less magnificent.

anyway, thanks for all the comments. more avril tomorrow!

Posted by Sean at April 11, 2007 8:45 AM

Sorry about Bill and Ted, Sean.

I can understand the urge to take a break from posting about things your readers might not have heard and to post instead whatever you love.

That Department of Eagles track is great. It was playing in the background after a new release and I thought it was by the same band, and also thought "this is the one to post."

Posted by Tuwa at April 11, 2007 10:14 AM

it's funny that your avril posting gets the most comments.

Posted by ha at April 11, 2007 12:02 PM

thanks for posting department of eagles... i think they are amazing too :)

Posted by musicisart at April 11, 2007 6:16 PM

This sort of hubub seems to be pretty common when less mainstream blogs start posting mainstream music. The comment tally on the Fluxblog post of Beyonce made it into the thirties, I believe.

I find it really interesting to hear what people like Sean, who have quite the ear for music, have to say about people like Avril, Rihanna, etc. It's music too. Just because it's on the radio doesn't mean it has to be bad. For some people, these posts might help soften this all too common knee jerk reaction by pointing out interesting qualities of songs they might otherwise ignore.

Posted by Amy at April 11, 2007 11:39 PM

am i the only one reminded of Liz Phair's latest with these power chords?

Posted by embarassed, non-musical at May 1, 2007 10:11 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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