Lexington’s Brother


The Longevity of Rock ‘N’ Roll and Eight People We Will Remember

When we look back at popular music in 15 years (2024), only a few of today’s musicians will still matter.  It’s just the nature of an industry full of drug abuse and lip syncing.

Before we get into the meat of this blog entry, fans of Beyonce should check out the board feed (the audio of her singing along to a recording) from the critically-acclaimed singer on the Today Show. It proves how pop singers are products of record labels and nothing more.

The one genre of music that seems to have more stability with its artists is rock n roll.  There are myriad reasons why, but especially because they are forced to write their own songs and .  There are other reasons, but just consider that we still talk about Buddy Holly 50 years after his death.  Tons of people (my dad, especially) still listen to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and The Beatles are still one of the most popular bands in the world.

It’s clear rock n roll has a longer shelf life than any other genre, but that doesn’t mean its artists will stick around.  Drugs, alcoholism and the pressure of reproducing earlier successes take a toll on most musicians.  The perfect example is The White Stripes, whose anxieties you can read about here.

With that being said, let’s go through the names in rock n roll who will still be around with some YouTube videos to show you why they’re so good.  I’ll also talk about why they’re different from everyone else and their affect on the music industry.

(Oh, and like always, play this music really loud.  You only live once.)

  • Matthew Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard.  I listened to “Black Holes and Revelations” and thought Muse had at least five members.  It still amazes me that this band, one of the biggest in the world, has such a vast sound with only three people.  Matthew Bellamy is probably the best singer in the world, too.
  • Radiohead, specifically Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood. Thom Yorke writes the outlines of almost all Radiohead songs, but Jonny Greenwood makes them memorable with classic guitar parts like in “My Iron Lung.”  I read something the other day that said everyone from 20-30 understands that Radiohead are the best and most important band of their generation and they haven’t even had a hit single in 16 years (“Creep”), which is unquestionably true.  If you’ve seen any of Radiohead’s performances lately (like the first video), it’s amazing to see how much they’ve evolved since Pablo Honey (the second performance was a year before The Bends came out, even though they’re performing ‘The Bends”).  Let’s hope Radiohead has at least five more records in them.

(I was watching Radiohead videos on YouTube as research and I really have no idea how the hell they did “There, There”.  I think it’s their best example to show why the band is so important: Ed O’Brien, Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke can play a slew of different instruments, which means that the band doesn’t have boundaries.  Anything Thom Yorke dreams up can be done.  Anyway, here’s the video.)

  • Josh Homme. The thing that I find appealing about Josh Homme and his bands is the style of music.  Queens of the Stone Age is supposed to be really heavy and it was on the first two QOTSA records.  But now, with Lullabies to Paralyze in 2005 and Era Vulgaris in 2007, Homme has taken the band more mainstream with their singles, but has counted that with aggressive songs like “Misfit Love” on Era Vulgaris.  Part of that reason for the move to the mainstream is because of the turnover in the band, but I also think Homme realizes how to keep Queens of the Stone Age relevant.  They need to attract more fans while continuing to stay true to their roots.   Here are examples of all three types of music I’m talking about.  QOTSA had the following tracks on Era Vulgaris.
  • The Strokes, specifically Julian Casablancas. This choice is more personal than anything else because The Strokes are my favorite band, but I don’t know if they’re still relevant.  It’s difficult to get an outside perspective, but if you haven’t heard their first or second record, Is This It and Room on Fire respectively, you should go to YouTube and do so now.  If you don’t want to, watch these two videos to get a sense of what The Strokes were like back in 2001 (ISI) and 2003 (ROF)

(I’m pretty sure they’re all on LSD in this first video)

The problem the media and the critics have with The Strokes is that they’re fake rich kids trying to slum it in New York and they’re not musically diverse like Radiohead or Muse.  Their first two records sound similar (though they were both widely hailed as brilliant) and then the buzz was mostly gone with their third album (though it was outstanding, as you can hear with this example and this one too). Now, to make things worse, The Strokes probably won’t release a new album until 2010, which would be over four years since First Impressions of Earth. What I’m saying is I’m not sure if people still care about the band, which will certainly submarine their longevity.  This makes me nervous.

  • With all of that (900+ words and a ton of videos) being said, the person I’m 90% certain will be called the best musician of my generation is Jack White.  At the moment, White is the centerpiece of three outstanding bands and is far-and-away the most productive musician going and the fantastic thing is that he seems like a pretty normal guy.  He’s married, has a kid and doesn’t do drugs or drink so he can seemingly concentrate solely on music.  Rolling Stone also named him the 21st best guitar player ever and he’s only 34.  Jack White’s career, quietly, is similar to Tiger Woods’.  We’re looking at him right now and he has all the potential in the world to dismantle every other musician in the industry with his diversity and drive to be the best.

Here’s “Seven Nation Army,” arguably one of the best songs of the decade.

So that’s the list (and probably my final post on Lexington’s Brother).  There will hopefully be a bunch of other artists we will remembers, especially Kings of Leon, because it’s clear that rock music stands the best test of time.  I hope that everyone has heard at least one new artist they like within the confines of this blog and I hope you continue to listen to good music.

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For more from Eric Van Dril, check out RipcordNews.



How Thom Yorke Accidentally Predicted 9/11

I was surfing for an article Chuck Klosterman wrote about Radiohead back when Hail To The Thief came out in 2003 during my first attempt at a post (it got deleted) and I found the following excerpts on this blog.  It’s an excerpt from Klosterman’s Killing Yourself To Live, which says that Radiohead’s Kid A predicted 9/11 more than a year before it happened.

From Klosterman’s Killing Yourself To Live…

The first song on Kid A paints the Manhattan skyline at 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday morning; the song is titled “Everything in Its Right Place.” People woke up that day “sucking on a lemon,” because that’s what life normally feels like on the Manhattan subway; the city is a beautiful, sour, sarcastic place. We soon move onto song two, which is the title track. It is the sound of woozy, ephemeral normalcy. It is the sound of Jonny Greenwood playing an Ondes Martenot, an instrument best remembered for its use in the Star Trek theme song. You can imagine humans walking to work, riding elevators, getting off the C train and the 3 train, and thinking about a future that will be a lot like the present, only better. The term KID A is Yorke’s moniker for the first cloned human, which he (only half jokingly) suspects may already exist. The consciously misguided message is this: Science is the answer. Technology solves everything, because technology is invulnerable. And this is what almost everyone in America thought around 8:30 A.M. But something happens three and a half minutes into “Kid A”. It suddenly doesn’t feel right, and you don’t exactly know why. This is followed by track three, “The National Anthem”

This is when the first plane slams into the north tower at 470 mph.

For those who haven’t heard “The National Anthem”, Klosterman is going to describe it in the next paragraph.  Here’s a live version of the song, which seems to change every time the band performs it.

If you don’t want to watch the video, know that “The National Anthem” is basically apocalyptic, chaotic and sounds like society crumbling over the course of five minutes.  Back to the text…

“The National Anthem” sounds a bit like a Morphine song. It’s a completely different direction from the first two songs on KID A, and it’s confusing; it’s chaotic. “What’s going on?,” the lyrics ask. “What’s going on?” It gets crazier and crazier, until the second plane hits the second tower (at 9:03 A.M. in reality and at 3:42 in the song). For a moment, things are somber. But then it gets more anarchic. (Reader’s Note: You might want to consider playing KID A right about now, since I’m not always so good at explaining shit like this). Which leads into track four, “How to Disappear Completely.” This is the point where it feels like the world is possibly ending. People try to convince themselves that they are not there. People keep repeating: “This isn’t happening”. People are “floating” (read: falling) to the earth. We are told of strobe lights and blown speakers; there are fireworks and hurricanes. This is a song about being burned alive and jumping out of windows, and this is a song about having to watch those things happen. And it’s followed by an instrumental piece without melody (“Treefingers”), because what can you say when skyscrapers collapse? All you can do is stare at them with your hand over your mouth.

Time passes. It’s afternoon. KID A’s side two, if you have it on vinyl. Action is replaced by thought. The song is “Optimistic, ” a word that becomes more meaningful in its absence. It has lyrics about Ground Zero (“vultures circle the dead”), and it offers a glimpse into how Al Qaeda members think Americans perceive international diplomacy (“the big fish eat the little ones, the big fish eat the little ones/Not my problem, give me some”). Track seven, “In Limbo” is about how the United States has been shaken out of its fantasy, with “nowhere to hide,” finding only “trap doors that open, I spiral down”……

The text goes on, but you get the idea.  The explanation might seem like a huge coincidence, but given the fact that Radiohead is unquestionably the smartest band Klosterman’s ever interviewed (he’s said it multiple times in interviews and in Chuck Klosterman IV), it seems like the band from Oxford might have seen this coming.  Not with planes flying into buildings exactly, but with the infrastructure of the United States crumbling with one giant blow to its foundation.

Even though 9/11 was a terrible event, the fact that Kid A seemed to predict a 9/11 type of event and a writer recognized this blows me away.

Update: I just read through this part (pages 83-89) in my previously un-read copy of Killing Yourself To Live and it turns out that Thom Yorke had writer’s block when he was trying to write the lyrics on Kid A. So what he did was scribble a bunch of short phrases and whatnot on napkins and toss them into a hat and then pick them out at random.  The coincidence of Kid A and 9/11 is amazing.