On that fateful Friday, 13th of November, just before the terrorists burst into Le Bataclan in Paris and gunned down 89 people, the American band, Eagles of Death Metal who were playing their gig there, had done six songs. They’d finished their amped-up, fuzzy guitar-laden cover version of Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer and had launched into their own Kiss the Devil, when the attacks began and the tragedy unfolded. We don’t know whether the band’s playlist that night would have included I Love You All the Time, a love song that would have resonated in happier times with the romantic city of Paris and not only because some of its lyrics are in French: Ce soir c’est le soir et toi avec moi/ Et tu viens me voir, tu viens… ouh la la (Tonight is the night and you with me/ And you come to me, you just… ooh la la).
Eagles of Death Metal play a brand of music that is not even remotely close to ‘death metal’, a particularly extreme form of metal that is loud, distorted and aggressive. The music of Eagles of Death Metal isn’t like that. They play loud, of course, but theirs is a blend of blues rock and psychedelic rock that is unpretentious and easily accessible. I Love You All the Time and their version of Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer are from the band’s new album, Zipper Down whose cover art you will have to check out for yourself because it’s funny but probably not quite appropriate an image for this magazine to carry. That’s the point about Eagles of Death Metal: their quirkiness. Everything from the band’s name to some of their songs and lyrics have a spirit of irreverence. On Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M), the band takes a jibe at a hipster enclave in Los Angeles (and by the way, you may like to check what K.S.O.F.M. stands for; this being a family mag, I can’t tell you, at least not here).
Eagles of Death Metal are a band from Palm Desert, a small town in California, and were founded by Joshua Homme and Jesse Hughes. Homme, a multi-instrumentalist, rarely plays live in the band (he wasn’t at Le Bataclan), although he plays drums for most of their recordings and composes many of the songs. Homme’s a key guy to track. Not only in Eagles of Death Metal but also his other project, Queens of the Stone Age, a hard rock band also from Palm Spring and whose newest album, …Like Clockwork, got nominated for the best rock album in the Grammys.
But my contact point with Homme is a weekly one – via radio. On Apple Music’s Beats1, a 24×7 worldwide radio channel that has broken new ground with its radio programming, Homme does a weekly show called The Alligator Hour. He sometimes has a musician whom he interviews or discusses things with or some other guest but best of all he has one of the most eclectic playlists that I’ve heard. Take his most recent episode, which starts with a nearly eight-minute version of Funkytown (you know the song – Won’t you take me to…) by the disco-funk band Lipps Inc. As soon as that song fades, Homme plays Johnny Winter’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’, a blues song from that gifted guitarist’s album, The Progressive Blues Experiment. Then comes Generationals, a new wave band from New Orleans that I hadn’t even heard of. Homme digs deep to find gems to play. On his show, I discovered Chron Gen, a British punk band from the late 1970s; rediscovered Eurhythmics, their lead singer Annie Lennox and their synthpop sound; and heard Dick Dale, an incredibly fast guitar picker whose surf guitar style is unique and whose music hasn’t lost its pace since the 1960s though Dale is 78.
The band members of the Eagles of Death Metal, their crew (except for one who died in the attack) survived the dastardly attack at Le Bataclan but so many of those who’d gone to their gig didn’t. There’s another bit of the lyrics in that same song, I Love You All the Time, that is in French: Ah dis-moi pourquoi. It means: Oh, tell me why.
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I think the 1980s’ band named Smog, probably better known by its frontman, Bill Callahan, may be one of the utterly under-rated and unacknowledged bands in the indie music genre. Better appreciated by critics than by fans, Smog could well be one of the earliest practitioners of the genre that is commonly known as lo-fi or low-fidelity. It is today a classification that comprises hundreds of bands and also one that has some bands that I like very much – Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided By Voices, Blur, and so many more. Lo-fi is used to describe a genre but its roots go back to recordings that had a less refined lower quality of sound, marked by a fuzz and hiss and unsharpness, which has its own sort of charm. Read more
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