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Author Archives: Phil Yates

I am a mathematics professor at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont. When I step away from the world of mathematics, I DJ a radio show "Spork!" at the college's radio station, WWPV 88.7 FM The Mike. I also dabble with writing music. My group Phil Yates & The Affiliates get the chance to annoy audiences around the Burlington, VT area and beyond.

As battles begin to rage on NFL gridiron’s across this fine nation, I am reminded of another epic battle.  It’s one that never seems to end.  Why can’t monkeys and robots get along?  This is a classic from Vermont’s cartoon laureate James Kochalka Superstar!  Stay tuned through the credits.  You’ll never guess who is inside the monkey suit.

OK, not really.  But this video has the one and only Cookie Monster “singing” Tom Waits’ “God’s Away On Business.”  Happy Wednesday, folks!

If you look at the posts here on Station 18 1/2, we’ve seem to, more often than not, talk about covers.  Covers can be hit or miss.  If a band plays a cover note for note, the line begins to blur between homage and karaoke.  If a band veers too far astray, they can be hailed as geniuses for the direction that they took or pariahs for flat out butchering a song.  That said, I present to you “She’s Not There”, the Neko Case-Nick Cave duet of The Zombies’ classic for the upcoming season of True Blood.  This cover strips away Rod Argent’s keyboard sound (the hook in the original) until a piano solo at around the 1:40 mark.  Using the lazy music journalist’s “sound like X meets Y” technique, this sounds like Grinderman goes to New Orleans.  I think that’s a good thing.  Neko Case does not vocally overpower the verses while Nick Cave provides some much needed Nick Cave creepiness to the chorus.  Count me in the “DIG IT!” camp!

Stream “She’s Not Here” by Neko Case & Nick Cave here!


Answer: Made it great!

This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the wedding of two of my friends in Roscoe, Georgia.  During dinner, my wife and I were assigned to the same table as the wedding DJ and the wedding band.  The wedding band happened to be Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, fresh off of their appearance at Bonnaroo.  Sallie and I talked about Deer Tick and their Deervana alter ego, Middle Brother, and Wye Oak.  Her drummer, Ford, and I geeked out over mathematics.  The guitarist, Jeff, and I talked after the show about his channeling of John Prine on one of their covers.  They also covered Tom Waits’ “God’s Away on Business.”  Talking with Tyler, the bassist, after the show, I made him take my money and had a CD for the road!  This is the video to the first single off of Dirty Radio – “I Swear.”  I dare you to not find yourself tapping your toes, bopping your head, and dancing in front of your computer screen.  You can’t do it, can you?

Who are Les Demoniaques, you ask?  They are a fuzzed out music project featuring Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls and Tamaryn.  On July 12, True Panther is releasing their cover of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Teenage Lust.”  

If that doesn’t do it for you, check out the cover art to the single.

I was doing my first tour of duty in Burlington, Vermont back in 1998. Even though I didn’t have basic cable in my apartment, I was able to pick up Much Music, the Canadian version of MTV. One day I was exposed to this video.

The sirens, the bass line, the guitars – the song was (and still is) perfect. This was the beginning of my love affair with Sloan, or if I was at one of their concerts, “Slooooooooooooan! Slooooooooooooooan!” In honor of their 10th studio album in their 20 year career, the excellent The Double Cross, this will be a journey through the Sloan discography with comments on my favorite songs from some of the albums. Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, Jay Ferguson, Andrew Scott – this one is for you!

Smeared (1992) – The full-length debut introduced Sloan as some blend of Beatle-esque harmonies and noise pop (think Sonic Youth around Goo). Basically if you think of Teenage Fanclub around this time, you have a good comparison of what Sloan sounded like. Three of the songs were from their Peppermint EP. Recommended: “Underwhelmed”, “I Am The Cancer”, “Marcus Said” – all Chris Murphy songs.

Twice Removed (1994) – “It’s not the band that I hate, it’s their fans.” The best lyric on one of Sloan’s catchiest songs, “Coax Me”. On their second full length album, Sloan fully embrace their power pop side. I love this album. Sometimes I like to use the term “ear candy.” This album is full of it! I want to recommend this entire album, but here are the biggest highlights (almost all of the album). Recommended: “Penpals” (Chris), “People of the Sky” (Andrew), “Coax Me” (Chris), “Bells On” (Chris), “Loosens” (Patrick), “Worried Now” (Patrick), “Deeper Than Beauty” (Chris), “Snowsuit Sound” (Jay), “I Can Feel It” (Patrick).

One Chord To Another (1996) – This is the second in their best four album run where I would want to recommend the entire album. This follows the same formula as Twice Removed and the gateway album for me, Navy Blues. Do you like well crafted, hooky, guitar based rock? Of course you do, and you should own this album. One of the songs, “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” appears in the movie The Virgin Suicides. Recommended: “The Good in Everyone” (Patrick), “Nothing Left To Make Me Want To Stay” (Chris), “G Turns To D” (Chris), “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” (Patrick), “Anyone Who’s Anyone” (Chris), “The Lines You Amend” (Jay), “Take the Bench” (Chris), “Can’t Face Up” (Patrick).

Navy Blues (1998) – This is where it all started for me. It’s my favorite Sloan album because it was the one that I heard first. Funny how that works that way. The guitars on this album have a nice “crunch” to them. So good. So very, very good. Recommended: “She Says What She Means” (Chris), “Iggy & Angus” (Patrick), “Keep On Thinkin'” (Chris), “Money City Maniacs” (Patrick), “Stand By Me, Yeah” (Patrick), “On The Horizon” (Andrew), “I’m Not Through With You Yet” (Patrick).

Between The Bridges (1999) – The last of their four album run of near perfect pop songs, Between The Bridges runs a lot of the songs together Abbey Road style. The songs don’t have as big of a rock “whallop” as Navy Blues, but you can still feel the 1960’s and 1970’s influence. This album was made for vinyl! Recommended: “The N.S.” (Andrew), “So Beyond Me” (Chris), “Don’t You Believe A Word” (Jay), “Sensory Deprivation” (Andrew), “All By Ourselves” (Chris), “A Long Time Coming” (Patrick), “Losing California” (Patrick), “The Marquee & The Moon” (Chris).

Pretty Together (2001) – After the four album run over seven years, you would expect any band to have a bit of a dip in quality. This album is Sloan’s dip. When I first heard it, I thought Sloan were just going through the motions. On occasion, I will listen to a song or two from the album. It’s still tough for me to sit through the entire album, yet I’m still recommending five songs. Recommended: “If It Feels Good Do It” (Patrick), “In the Movies” (Andrew), “Never Seeing The Ground For The Sky” (Andrew), “It’s In Your Eyes” (Patrick), “I Love a Long Goodbye” (Chris).

Action Pact (2003) – After Pretty Together, Sloan tried to bring back the rock in a pretty enjoyable return to form. Strangely, this was the only Sloan album I do not own in its entirety. Thus, only one song is recommended. Recommended: “Ready For You” (Chris).

Never Hear The End Of It (2006) – In what was a long time for Sloan between albums, they decided to put out an album of 29 songs clocking in around 70 minutes. Songs ran into other songs. It was pretty great. Recommended: “Who Taught You To Live Like That?” (Jay), “Flying High Again” (all four take a verse), “Right Or Wrong” (Jay).

Parallel Play (2008) – The shortest of Sloan’s albums after their longest album. Still, it sounded like they were having fun turning up the guitars again. Live a lot of the songs felt like new anthems. Recommended: “Believe in Me” (Patrick), “All I Am Is All You’re Not” (Chris), “Emergency 911” (Andrew), “Burn For It” (Patrick), “Witch’s Wand” (Jay), “Down in the Basement” (Andrew), “I’m Not A Kid Anymore” (Chris).

The Double Cross (2011) – You’re thinking, finally, this post is almost over. I’m still absorbing this album, so the list of the recommend songs may change later this year. It’s nice to see one of your favorite bands still putting out great music 20 years later. Basically, all I can do is to give a big “Thanks” to the little band from Halifax that could! Recommended: “Follow the Leader” (Chris), “The Answer Is You” (Jay), “Unkind” (Patrick), “Shadow of Love” (Chris), “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal” (Jay), “It’s Plain to See” (Andrew), “I’ve Gotta Know” (Patrick), “Traces” (Andrew), “Laying So Low” (Chris).

I’m sitting in Burlington International Airport waiting for my delayed flight.  What better time to post a new blog entry then now?  This is one of my very favorite YouTube videos:  Glenn Danzig and his books.  Glenn and I are similar in many ways.  For one, we both like to sit in front of our bookcases shirtless.  Another thing we have in common, daisies are our favorite flowers.

The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”  Sometimes a band wows you with a sneaky cover.  New York based band Howth do just that with their take on “I Will Always Love You.”  The song starts off like a track that could have been included on the new Fleet Foxes album.  The lyrics are vaguely familiar until the chorus hits.  Oh yeah, it’s Dolly Parton!   Grab this track, put it on a mix with The White Stripes’ “Jolene,” and you have the beginning of a killer “indie rock does country” collection!

\”I WIll Always Love You\” by Howth

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