Tuesday September 16, 2014 at 21:53

2 notes

It took Kurt Dahle parting ways with the New Pornographers (and specifically Pitchfork’s news story thereof) to draw my attention to this video, where Dahle talks about his playing, his influences, and the classic parts he ripped off.

Since the band’s about to start touring, I suppose we’ll find out who his replacement soon enough, but he’s going to be a difficult guy to follow*. It’s no surprise Dahle spends as much time in the video talking up Iron Maiden and John Bonham as he does the more expected Clem Burke, Bun E. Carlos, and other power-pop oriented guys, since he’s got this marvelous heavy swing on his kick pedal and an ear for memorable fills that seems rooted in metal and ’70s hard rock.

Plus, I vividly remember him singing all of Dan Bejar’s leads on the Electric Version tour without dropping a beat.

* The name that keeps getting bandied about online is Jon Wurster, but this smacks of uncreative fan-casting (“Whaaaaaat, there’s a black character in this movie? I have this amazingly perfect idea! Have you heard of… Idris Elba?”). Plus, Wurster’s committed to, what, three or four other active indie rock acts at the moment?

Tuesday March 11, 2014 at 23:31

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The National - “Graceless” (Live on SNL)

I remember reading a few complaints about Trouble Will Find Me (in formal reviews as well as comments from friends) that slammed the drumming as being either a perpetual problem for The National or as having had a drop off in quality on the new album. Bryan Devendorf’s drumming, it seems, lacks energy or creativity.

Now, I think it’s valuable for the world of music writing to include lots of people who don’t understand how to play music. I’m pretty sure many of my favorite music writers can’t so much as play a chord or a drumbeat even as they brilliantly articulate what makes a song tick or not tick. They can squeeze fresh meanings from artist’s catalogs and frame those artists in ways you’d never expect without knowing the first thing about alternate guitar tunings or vintage drum machines. This is fine. Great, even, because there’s a lot more to discuss about music’s cultural and social dimensions than about progressions and time signatures. My own technical grasp of music is limited primarily to drums and what little I’ve picked up from bandmates over the years.

But here’s the thing: if your ears can’t discern that what Devendorf is playing on “Graceless” (for one) is intensely complicated and distinct from what he’s done on other songs, you probably should just focus on something else. You don’t have to like what Devendorf’s doing (too restless and showy, perhaps?) or like the songs he’s playing on, but this video should illustrate what perhaps isn’t plain enough on the recording for those who aren’t listening closely: he’s working his ass off.

Wednesday July 31, 2013 at 12:23

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The Roots - “Step Into The Realm” (Things Fall Apart)

For its wit and insight into the mind of a voracious music fan who just happens to play drums for a living, I can’t recommend ?uestlove’s* Mo’ Meta Blues enough. He manages to come off as simultaneously as level-headed as you’d expect from interviews, but deeply, deeply weird (in the best way possible) in terms of focus and introspection. You’ll want to have him over for dinner.

However, the book’s a little light on discussing the Roots’ music (mercifully, perhaps, since it’s aimed at a general audience), including mentions of the author’s own contributions.

The first Roots album I heard was Things Fall Apart, and the rhythm track on “Step Into the Realm” was my first hint that there was some serious thinking going on where beats were concerned. I think I already knew the band was primarily a live unit with a badass drummer, so ?uestlove’s decision to loop himself and let the beat fade on every verse impressed me as an ego-less approach to making a good song better through the details. Since then, I’ve come to better understand ?uestlove’s roles as DJ, producer, and the band’s de facto musical director. Now, the choice seems slightly less selfless (as I’m pretty sure the man’s ego isn’t dependent on showing off his drumming chops), but no less inspired.

* And, yeah, I insist on using the ?. In the memoir, he writes that he’s not picky about it, and there are simply too few names that begin with punctuation.

(Source: youtube.com)

Thursday July 11, 2013 at 18:15

2 notes

Sunday July 07, 2013 at 21:22

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markrichardson:

John Bonham tracking his part for “Fool in the Rain”. Seems like a reasonable candidate for the most in-the-pocket groove in the history of rock drumming. It’s like the whole kit is an extension of his limbs and the entire organism is functioning in perfect harmony. Judging from the way he was living when he died approximately 16 months later at the age of 32, it’s possible that he made this recording while he had the alcohol from a dozen or so shots of vodka in his bloodstream. Which says something about the human nervous system’s adaptability, I guess. 

Gah! It cuts off at the transition from the bridge back to the verse!

Now, here’s something weird—this audio track makes the drum part sound seamless, as if it were recorded in a single take. According to Wikipedia, a master drum track shows that Bonham recorded the samba section on a second track. I’m not sure why, since there’s a long pause for John Paul Jones to establish the groove on piano before Bonzo comes in on the samba. The trickiest part of making the two styles cohere would occur in the triplet roll where this audio track cuts off, and it sounds like he nails that here. Maybe coming out of the roll was the problem, and that’s where the second track comes in?

This post was reblogged from Mark Richardson.

Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 15:54

12 notes

Thursday March 14, 2013 at 15:30

60 notes
oneweekoneband:

Remember the time Muse recorded the kicks on “Apocalypse Please” in a swimming pool?


Okay, I don’t like Muse, but this One Week/One Band coverage is just too much fun. The author clearly enjoys the band, but enjoys picking on their ridiculousness just about as much (much to the chagrin of some other Muse fans, it seems), and there’s ridiculousness for miles here, apparently.
Anyway, I’m posting this on Drumtumblr instead of my usual blog because 1) Drumtumblr is underused, and 2) it’s a picture of a dude playing two bass drums in a pool. Not near a pool, because obviously the sound would be entirely different if the drums were positioned two feet further out from the edge of the pool so that someone wouldn’t have to be half submerged in water during the recording process. But in a pool.

oneweekoneband:

Remember the time Muse recorded the kicks on “Apocalypse Please” in a swimming pool?

Okay, I don’t like Muse, but this One Week/One Band coverage is just too much fun. The author clearly enjoys the band, but enjoys picking on their ridiculousness just about as much (much to the chagrin of some other Muse fans, it seems), and there’s ridiculousness for miles here, apparently.

Anyway, I’m posting this on Drumtumblr instead of my usual blog because 1) Drumtumblr is underused, and 2) it’s a picture of a dude playing two bass drums in a pool. Not near a pool, because obviously the sound would be entirely different if the drums were positioned two feet further out from the edge of the pool so that someone wouldn’t have to be half submerged in water during the recording process. But in a pool.

This post was reblogged from One Week // One Band.

Saturday July 21, 2012 at 13:59

37 notes

oneweekoneband:

Myxomatosis (Live From The Basement)

it must have got mixed up

Because:

1) The drumming is HARDCORE. Selway really sounds like he’s putting mad shoulder into each hit. The visual does not support this of course. You don’t see sweaty effort, only concentration and cool.

2) C. Greenwood’s bass face.

3) The Greenwood Bros. grungy bass/keyboard double assault. Something this ugly shouldn’t sound so good.

4) I. Don’t. Know. Why. I. Feel. So. Tongue. Tied.

5) Again those drums.

6) Ice cold disco keyboard.

7) (This is only on the studio version but it must be mentioned…) yeah no one likes a smart ass but we all like stars FOR A REASON that wasn’t my intention FOR A REASON I did it for a reason REASON - once the doubling gets in my head, I can’t let it go.

8) The lifted line from “Cuttooth”

9) “I wish that’s what they [would] sound like now and forever” - Jeff Klingman

Let me add a 10:  this crazy-sounding thing is in 4/4, but clearly has mixed feelings about it, mostly courtesy of Selway’s snare hits. Some people initially* welcomed Hail to the Thief as Radiohead’s “return to guitars,” but it often goes unstated what a great percussion album it is. From “Myxomatosis” to the garage rock bashing on “2+2=5” to the fills that punctuate the last verse on “Wolf at the Door” to the strident Can-funk groove on “Where I End and You Begin” to the multi-tom attack on “There There” to the ghoulish hand claps on “We Suck Young Blood,” this may be Radiohead’s most rhythmically inventive release (although Selway’s had plenty of space to shine on the last two albums, which are drum-intensive, if not quite as diverse).

I’ve always assumed Mars Volta borrowed some DNA from “Myxomatosis” for the main section of  "Cotopaxi" (probably my favorite song of theirs), but one might say they cheated by using actual time changes.

* “Initially” because, for some reason, both the band and the fans seem to have consistently underrated HTTT in the years since its release. Needless to say, I consider this a mistake.

This post was reblogged from One Week // One Band.

Wednesday July 11, 2012 at 11:34

20 notes

Drums: Jason Cooper

oneweekoneband:

Jason Cooper, who has been the Cure’s drummer for longer than anyone else, has gotten an inordinate amount of stick from fans, and a massive slight from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who failed to mention him at all in their nomination of the Cure. As far as the fans go, this is pure bias, borne of loyalty to and preference for the Cure’s idealized 1985-1993 phase.

If I’m honest, I suspect lot of it has to do with the band’s good looks, which peaked during the period Boris Williams drummed for the Cure. His departure in 1993 coincided with an undeniable physical slide (due to aging and probably drink), which took a heavy toll on Robert Smith en totalement, and Porl Thompson’s hair. Oddly, bassist Simon Gallup is hotter at 52 than he was at 32, and has absorbed most of the feminine (and I suppose masculine) lust previously reserved for Robert Smith. 

Simon, please gain some weight. Give the guys in Mastodon a chance.

These things shouldn’t matter, and in many cases don’t. Nobody gave the Pixies a hard time for being overweight during their reunion bid, but the Pixies never explicitly relied on physical beauty, and therein lies the problem. Barring Lol Tolhurst, the Cure were very foxy young men, and traded heavily on their looks during their oft-celebrated late-’80s peak. Some of the promo shots are positively George Michael status.

By now, Smith’s looked rather haggard for more than a decade, and the easy jokes about it have grown so tired that people have simply accepted it, and are again happy to celebrate the band at roll-out-the-barrel festivals all over the world. Two recent major engagements—the 2011 Reflections tour (during which the band performed its first three albums sequentially), that year’s Bestival set and their 2012 SummerCure festival dates (at right)—have shown a renewed sense of purpose. Both Robert Smith’s vocals and Jason Cooper’s drumming have improved a great deal, and by “improved” I mean “aligned with audience expectations.”

Jason Cooper is an academically-trained drummer, he’s not some metalhead that won a contest. The problem with his playing, for fans anyway, was twofold. First and most regrettably, the Cure began employing percussion loops to augment and more accurately replicate their material. This ties Cooper to a click-track, and makes it extremely difficult for the band to…”rock out”, for lack of a better term. When you’re playing to a computer, the whole performance is anaesthetized. Fans took this to mean Cooper needed padding, or training wheels; that he couldn’t handle “100 Years” or “Disintegration”, the two biggest stamina tests for any drummer in the Cure’s catalog.

For any casual or new fans—and there are hundreds of thousands who have no idea who Boris Williams even is—it’s hard to appreciate how this could be such an issue for dyed-in-the-wool fans of his turn with the Cure. The most succinct answer I can offer is the band’s performance of “Push” from the 1986 concert film in Orange:

At that time, the Cure seriously ripped in concert, and anyone who was there went absolutely insane with joy. It’s really difficult to explain. I mean the guys in my Cure cover band, we used to watch in Orange once a week—at least. And just watching this VHS tape, we’d get so amped up we’d run downstairs to practice, with the echoes of this show ringing in our heads (and our miserable playing echoing around the neighborhood). 

For some, Boris was still fighting the memory of Andy Anderson, whose tenure with the band was sadly cut short by emotional and substance-abuse issues. It hurt Robert Smith a great deal to boot him out of the band, but apparently he’d used up all nine lives, as it were. Here’s Andy destroying another snare in a 1984 performance of “Primary” (the same show as featured on the 1984 live LP Concert).

Listening to “Disintegration” at its typical tempo under Boris Williams, one sympathizes with the rest of the band, who are doing all they can to keep up. This is not a common situation, and not one to lay at Jason Cooper’s feet. The Cure happened to have two of the strongest 4/4 rock drummers in recent memory in their lineup at different times: Andy Anderson, and Boris.

There is no arguing that the Cure have slowed down certain numbers under Jason Cooper, and that he’s put a kind of John Bonham thrust to things, especially the fills he’s inserted in “100 Years”, and the song “Watching Me Fall”, which is so classic rock as to invoke “When the Levee Breaks”. That’s his style, as a drummer, and the Cure songs he’s inherited weren’t written with him in mind, versus say “Out of This World”, the winning introduction to 2000’s return to form, Bloodflowers.

This Glastonbury 1990 performance of the 1983 gem “Lament”, during which Boris Williams plays every piece of percussion you hear live, is a dearly-held moment for serious Cure fans. They played it on a number of festival dates that year, and blew everyone’s minds. 

The 2012 equivalent of that sort of trainspotter’s reward is “Just One Kiss”, which has never been played live before, and is not, by any measure, an easy task for a rock drummer tasked with delivering a three hour set. And Jason Cooper absolutely fucking nails it.

An interesting summary of the Cure’s drumming history—I’ve never followed their career closely enough to track all of the personnel changes (apparently, they have Reeves Gabrel on guitar now??). But I was happy to pitch in when some good friends needed a drummer for a one-off Cure tribute act (that subsequently became a two-off Cure tribute act).

My theory on Boris Williams’ speedy pace on “Disintegration”: it’s a fantastic song for listening purposes, but playing is another matter, at least for a certain type of drummer (of which I’m one). When you’re locked into that single groove (with very few variations or fills, since the song’s power is dependent on that repetitive foundation) for 8 minutes, all you want to do is finish the damn thing. Plus, it doesn’t sound bad fast, so why not bump it up a few BPM?

This post was reblogged from One Week // One Band.

Monday April 23, 2012 at 13:14

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