Ed Sheeran on Green Day

Ed Sheeran talks about his first time at Wembley back in 2002. Who knew he was a closet Green Day fan?!

Taken from MTV’s “Nine Days and Nine Nights of Ed Sheeran”. Here’s another funny bit that came along with that special:

New Beatles Songs

I know I’m not breaking any new ground by calling out the Beatles as one of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll. George, John, Paul, and Ringo laid the musical groundwork for many bands to come, writing one of my favorite songs of all time, and creating a trademark sound that undoubtedly inspired some of my other top tunes.

After going on a shuffle marathon through my iTunes library, it occurred to me that a good number of the songs could have come straight off any of the Fab Four’s albums. Here are some of my fav faux-Beatles tracks. Feel free to leave yours in the comments section!

Nirvana – About a Girl

 

Green Day – The Static Age

 

Garbage – Special

 

Foo Fighters – Back and Forth

Skinny Girl Problems

The holidays are over and as I sit here pretending this Fiber One 80 calorie, chocolate cereal is chilaquiles, I can’t help but think of the days when baby had a little more back. This newly skinny girl has gotten her eating back in control, but boy oh boy it hasn’t been easy. My date for all the work and family parties was a big ole hunk of cheese and now I’m paying for it. A few stomach aches and a tad bit more badonk later, this eating lockdown is necessary and totally sucky. Once you get a taste of the dark side, joining up with Luke and Obi Wan isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here now for you, 2013’s first batch of skinny girl problems.

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Going Veg- Let’s talk about wontons baby, let’s talk about tur-ur-key, let’s talk about all the good things and the meat things I can’t eat. My fling with vegetarianism started in high school. I was driving home from a shift at Panera Bread, listening to midnight Metallica on X103, when all of a sudden a flatbed truck carrying about ten million live chickens pulled up next to me. That was all it took. For the last bunch of years, I’ve been on and off the meat, but for the last 6 months, I’ve been pretty darn strict with it. This strigency is partly due to my soft spot for the am-nimals and partly due to the fact that Billie Joe Armstrong is a veg, but mostly due to how much my diet improves without meat. I feel light as a feather and eat a million times more produce. The only problem is…

I WANT TO EAT ALL THE BURGERS- Umami, Shake Shack, Corner Bistro, oh my! The things I would do for a burger right now would make my parents very un-proud. You meat-eating, non-dieters, don’t know how good you have it. I’m at the point where I want to throw in the towel and say eff it. They opened a Steak and Shake in NYC… Have I gone? NO. Why? Because I’m a stupid skinny girl now. This blows.

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I ruined pizza night- There I was last week crawling around on the floor with my nephews, when my sister suggested inviting over another kid and his mom for a pizza night. There were three parents, three kids, and one me. Out came the pizza menu for a classic midwest squares, not triangles, type of place, and I uttered the forbidden phrase, “Do they have any salads?” It was as if I had suggested serving hamburgers at a mosque. (Can’t stop thinking about burgers…) Everyone stared at me, and politely indulged my request, even though it was kind of a pain in the a-s-s. The salad I got ended up being a pile of spinach, a few strawberry slices, and the tiniest amount of feta cheese possible. OH AND IT COST NINE DOLLARS. It was a total ripoff, and totally not worth becoming the pizza night pariah. Lame.

I can’t be Lena Dunham’s body double anymore- I was all ready to dye my hair and everything, but the eight pounds overweight that she claims to be are eight pounds I don’t have anymore. And you never know, there may be a big roller skating scene on Girls where she needs a stand in cause maybe she can’t roller skate and I’ll be too skinny to be considered. This is clearly the biggest skinny girl problem of them all.

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Now it’s time for the necessary disclaimer that this is all (mostly) tongue in cheek. I’m loving my new skinny girl/healthy lifestyle and wouldn’t trade it for anything… except maybe losing eight more pounds. And a burger. Fingers crossed!

For more Skinny Girl Problems, click this link. I promise you won’t regret it.

PS- For the record, Lena Dunham has a hot bod. She is beautiful, and I’m not trying to imply otherwise. Hooray!

Green Day @ Irving Plaza 9/15

The most commonly asked question at Green Day’s Irving Plaza show on Saturday in NYC was, “How did you get a ticket?” This was a gig for the fans. Fans that endured a series of impossible pre-sales, a vague Facebook contest, and Craigslist posts that had the $50 tickets going for hundreds of dollars. Fans that were just as stoked to hear the band play deep cuts from Kerplunk and 39/Smooth as they were to hear the iconic opening riff to Brain Stew. I was one of the lucky fans privy to the 38-song set and as my moshing-induced bruises indicate, I’m still recovering.

Irving Plaza was one of a series of recent smaller-venue shows celebrating the upcoming release of Green Day’s latest project Uno! Dos! Tre! And playing to a smaller crowd seems to be mutually beneficial. If you’ve watched the Bullet in a Bible or Awesome as F*ck concert DVDs, you know GD can perform certain songs in their sleep. The have tunes like Basketcase and Boulevard of Broken Dreams pretty nailed down, so the chance to figure out what to do with the new tracks in front of a select group of highly-enthusiastic people must be really helpful. Especially since the band is about to embark on a cross-country stadium tour. And on the other end of things, the fans feel special to be some of the first to hear soon to be released songs like Nuclear Family, Carpe Diem, and 99 Revolutions live.

Early in the show, a sweat-soaked Billie Joe proclaimed, “Tonight’s the night for the second chance.” And that chance might be referring to the band’s opportunity to return to their punk-pop roots. Now I love American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown about as much as I love Dookie, however it is refreshing to see Green Day get back to doing the rebellious, three-minute-thrashers that they do best. They’re no longer bound to a storyline or an agenda, and that freedom has resulted in some killer songs. You can’t help but let yourself go when hearing Let Yourself Go or shake your booty at the groove of Kill the DJ. And at this show, I did both.

 

As a front man, Billie Joe is irresistible. He has a charisma and a way of involving the whole audience that not many others share. At a certain point, he did a stage dive off the balcony, landing directly on top of a flabbergasted me. I took this as my cue to move back a little, and it turned out to be a good choice. The distance allowed me to enjoy Mike Dirnt’s ferocity towards his bass, and the many facial expressions of drummer Tre Cool.

 

 

Highlights included cover versions of Crazy Train after Billie Joe shared that he spent the whole recent America’s Got Talent taping thinking about how he wanted to eff Sharon Osbourne and a less sexually charged take on Stairway to Heaven. I lost it a little when hearing 2,000 Light Years Away and found new depth to the American Idiot track Letterbomb. I’ve seen that song performed by so many other people between the Broadway show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, but this was my first time seeing it delivered by the band that wrote it and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It contained a raw emotion that could only be summoned by its original performers. Raw emotion also came into play with Wake Me Up When September Ends. Billie Joe fought back tears and choked through the chorus, presumably since it was the eve of his father’s death, about whom he wrote the song.

 

In the words of Billie Joe, instead of being a party, Irving Plaza was supposed to be a celebration, and that’s exactly what it ended up being.  It was a celebration of new music, a long career, and a group of hardcore fans keeping that career going. Ironic that it happened at the site of their first ever-headlining gig—a St. Patrick’s Day show in 1994. I can only wonder how the band felt on the same stage 18 years later. If it was anything like how I felt watching them, it must have been pretty damn good.

Check out 3 songs for yourself and rock on!

New Review of an Old Album

The album up for review this week is another one celebrating its 25th year being listened to by  the world and its 3rd month being listened to by me. It’s the album that Billie Joe Armstrong claimed to be the “best debut album in the history of rock and roll” in his speech at this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony. It’s sold over 18 million copies. It makes even the squarest of squares wanna do a keg stand on a balance beam over a pit of snakes. It’s Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses.

As a first time listener of Appetite for Destruction, it’d be really easy to think that it is totally cheeseball. With the epic guitar solos, Axl’s insane singing, all the girls/booze/party talk, and songs like “Night Train,” I can’t help but conjure up images of a modern day Spinal Tap. Thing is, Appetite came first. It only seems like a joke because I’ve been listening to 25 years worth of people trying to copy what they did.  Appetite for Destruction is a genius collection of groundbreaking rock and roll, and without this album, a lot of bands simply wouldn’t exist.

In their celebration of the album, Stereogum discussed how they can’t imagine a world without the song “Paradise City” (track six on AFD), and I’m total proof of that. Dookie was my first cassette, and I listened to all subsequent rock that came out after it, however I never took the time to dive into the classics. Despite this, I still know and have known every word and every riff to this famous song. And now, after my buddy Josh was nice enough to burn me a copy of Appetite, I can sing you through a good chunk of the album.

On my first couple spins of this CD I couldn’t pick out which songs were my favorites, as each one built so well upon the masterpiece that preceded. All members of the band are at the top of their game and Slash steers the ship  from stage left as the holy grail of guitar players. I turn into a giggly school girl during “Welcome to the Jungle,” I die for the catchiness of “Mr. Brownstone,” and just straight up melt for everything that “Sweet Child O’ Mine” has got going on. That for me is the song that makes this album.

It starts out with one of the most classic guitar riffs of all time and launches into a  soulful conglomeration of tender lyrics, loud instrumentation, and a damn near perfect sense of pacing. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” takes breaks when it needs to, giving each part of the song the weight and breathing room that it deserves. Slash’s sections aren’t just six-string solos. His guitar sings just as much as Axl, driving you much further than if the song depended on words alone. It’s 4 minutes and 33 seconds where no matter what, you’re gonna get lost in the world. Just try and resist it. Don’t believe me? Think back to any karaoke experience where “Sweet Child…” came on. I rest my case.

I think the karaoke test would stand true over most of the songs on Appetite for Destruction, and that’s part of the reason I give this album an A++. It’d be really easy to just get caught up in the nostalgia and hoopla that has surrounded this album since it’s 1987 release, but it all exists for a reason. Axl may have strayed off path, but AFD remains on point, even after all these years.

If you liked this, check out my review of the Replacements’ “Pleased to Meet Me.”

 

 

 

 

New Review of an Old Album

In this new feature on Little Conqueror I’m going to start reviewing albums that are old to the world, but new to me. “Pleased to Meet Me” by The Replacements is celebrating its 25th birthday this year, making it a perfect contender for my inaugural voyage back from the future.

As I get deeper and deeper into my music hole, more and more bands come to light that I “just have to listen to!” The Replacements were a name that came along early. It seemed everyone I read up on drooled over them as a kid or young adult. Bob Mould, the brains behind Husker Du and Sugar, must have name checked the Minneapolis rockers about 40 million times in his bio “See a Little Light” and Billie Joe Armstrong cites a mutual love for The Replacements as one of the reasons he initially started dating his future wife. That’s really all it took for me.

I’m on the constant lookout for places that sell used CD’s and Academy Records in Chelsea is my New York main squeeze. The only Replacements CD they had was “Pleased to Meet Me,” so I scooped it up not knowing that it was a good one to start with.

As I’ve since learned on Wikipedia, the band was sporting a new line up with this release. It was their 2nd effort after going mainstream and some band mates didn’t make the cut. Down a guitarist, The Replacements motored on as a trio and created what seems to be a bit of a sonic departure from what I gather is their standard gritty, punk sound.

There’s no inclination of this on the album’s first track I.O.U., but by the time you get to the jazzy (and sort of out of place) Nightclub Jitters, something’s clearly up. While on the “Pleased to Meet Me” bus, I feel like The Replacements are saying, “Here are the rock and roll jams that will make you want to jump around, but look what we can ALSO do.” For instance, Saxophone plays a part in this album… And less in the vein of ska and reggae but more in a channeling of Bill Clinton on Arsenio Hall. So dare I say, it’s not cool? Also not cool are the brief emo moments that sneak in on songs like Never Mind and Skyway. Some people might dig that, but it’s just not my thing.

The songs that keep me listening again and again are Alex Chilton (an ode to someone who was apparently a heartthrob, but goes unknown to me), Red Red Wine (not the one you think), and of course Can’t Hardly Wait– the titular song to what will always be one of my fav films. Yeah I called it a film. It’s probably giving it too much credit, but whatever. I also really dig The Ledge and think it seems to house all the things the band was trying to do on this album in one place.

After listening to “Pleased to Meet Me” I’m really excited to dive into The Replacements’ major label debut, “Tim.” And then even more amped to get into the non-label works. I feel like that’s where they’re hiding the really good stuff. And in doing so, I’m hoping to not only be inspired musically, but to find my Billie Joe Armstrong. I can’t hardly wait.

Why I Play Guitar

Over time it’s seeming like the purpose of this blog is to shatter the illusion that I’m cool. We’ve learned about my penchant for pop-esque punk music, my too high level of excitement over things like fried pizza, and that I consider meeting someone for coffee an event worth documenting. Nine times out of ten when you see me rocking out on my headphones, I’m listening to Mariah Carey, so there’s also that. The reason I’m saying all this is to justify that one of the reasons I play guitar is Justin Bieber, but we’ll get to that later.

Now I’d like for us to get in our mental time machines all the way back to February of 2011. A crazy time where most people had iPhones, everyone rocked skinny jeans, and Barack Obama was president. It was also when I was lucky enough to get tickets to see American Idiot on Broadway. I was excited to hear some of my favorite songs, but louder, and with dancing, and in no way could have anticipated what would come next. This is in no way a reflection of the performance, but for some reason my focus kept drifting to the guitarist on stage right. The show was INCREDIBLE, however I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

Fast forward to a couple weeks later and like most people in their late twenties, I went with Stacilyn and Alyssa to see the Justin Bieber movie. I’m not even going to pretend that I went to see it ironically. I’ll spare you my thoughts on the movie as they warrant a full post where every other word is “oh my gosh.” I walked away really impressed by the fact that Justin had been playing instruments from the time he was an itty bitty baby Bieber. Then something important happened.

You all might not know this, but Stacilyn is a badass guitar player. I’m her roommate and I didn’t even know until that day in March. When we got home from the movie, she got out her guitar and figured out how to play “Baby” relatively quickly. The only thing I had to offer was my voice, so I sang along while she played. For whatever reason, it was the most fun I had had in a really long time. The singing/playing continued for the next couple nights and one night she tried to teach me some chords. However, being the consummate over-achiever, I was too embarrassed to try and play anything in front of her, and I still needed one final push.

That push came from the Foo Fighters. Right around this time they were getting ready to release Wasting Light and were EVERYWHERE. A good portion of my day was spent keeping up with all the press and videos popping up. Dave Grohl has time and time again described the band as being all about guitars. In addition to Dave there’s Pat Smear and Chris Shifflet which means that at any given time they have THREE guitars rocking your face off. That combined with the fact that I’m a lady who would swoon over Charlie Sheen if he played an instrument, is what sealed the deal for me.

From that point forward I youtube’d and google’d every video I could of Dave and Billie Joe and even Bieber playing acoustically. I was also lucky enough to work in a place where music happened every day. There were guitars lying around everywhere, and people like my pals Owen and Kirk and Adrien and Roman were nice enough to take time out of their day to show me a thing or two and answer all of my questions. Which was HUGE, since I had a lot of them. Then, I bought a guitar of my own and haven’t put it down since.

The last year has been a transition to say the least. We already covered the weight loss, but a lot of my closest friends moved to LA, I left my job, and cut off all my hair. The addition of guitar into my life helped me manage all that change. I have this thing I do that is purely for fun. It’s mine, and I don’t have to report to anyone about it. Also, I get to like rock out and play music which is kind of super awesome. And did I mention my guit-arms? Pushups got nothing on playing. I digress.

So in the end, I want to thank Green Day, Bieber, Foo Fighters, Stacilyn, Owen, Kirk, Adrien, and Roman, cause they’re why I play guitar.

Before I cut off my hair...