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Everything tastes better on vinyl.

The Holy Bee Recommends, #17: The Rolling Stones’ Post-Exile Trilogy

Holy Bee of Ephesus

There is a blindly-accepted mythology that began as soon as the 70s ended. The myth goes like this: The Rolling Stones were a scrappy London R&B band that rode the first wave of the British Invasion, had some monster singles, did a classic mid-60s album (Aftermath), stumbled briefly with a psychedelic Beatles knock-off (Their Satanic Majesties Request), then righted themselves, found an excellent producer in Jimmy Miller, and made the Holy Quadrilogy — Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile On Main Street — each an irrefutable cornerstone of their massive legacy and four of the greatest rock albums ever made.

And after that — Some Girls aside — it all went to shit.

The “Ultimate Classic Rock” website, the internet’s click-bait custodian of lazy rock factoids, perpetuates the well-trodden path, describing the first post-Exile album, Goats Head Soupas“the end of the Stones’…

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Hi-Fi Fifteen: This Land Is Your Land

I have been so disheartened by the election results, and even more so every day since January 20th. I do not have the words to adequately articulate these times, so I turn to Idle Time favorite Joe Henry. He writes:

jhI have not read ‘Art Of The Deal,’ but have heard its synopsis by the “author,” and now witness its bizarre theatre enacted on our national stage: make an extravagant push of extremes –while flash pots deploy, distracting your negotiating advisory and leaving them to feel unmoored, hurried and vulnerable; and as the overreach is walked back, your advisory will believe themselves to have made “progress;” and will in the end gratefully settle for far less than they’d have ever first been willing even to imagine.

Is this what is happening to us now?

If so, we are about to learn whether ours truly is a country rooted by a constitution, or ruled by the whims of an autonomous regime, with its own moving agenda to which we are neither privy nor free to challenge –and of which we will never be beneficiaries.

Volatile as are these waters that toss around our little ship of state today, I assume it shall be revealed very soon whether or not our national craft is sustainable. But this much is clear right now: the storm threatening us is man-made, and means indeed to draw us silently under its loud and cold wave. We are at sea and at siege. Continue reading Hi-Fi Fifteen: This Land Is Your Land

2016: Idle Time’s Favorite Forty

Just in case you were comfortably moving on from a challenging 2016, Idle Time begs your attention one last time as we post our sixteenth annual retrospective, highlighting the albums that meant the most to us over the last twelve months. When we started this little clubhouse of chicanery, it was music that brought us together and, now, more than fifteen years later, as our roster expands and our scope broadens, the unifying power of music seems more important than ever.

In a year muddied by fear, confusion, and destructive ethnocentrism throughout our country and the world, it seems only appropriate that this year’s list of Favorite Albums ended up being our most diverse to date. Nine different countries are featured, and three different languages, with almost half of the albums originating outside of the U.S. Perhaps even more significantly, thirteen of the forty performers are female artists or bands fronted by women. More genres are represented, and we even have our first appearance of an original soundtrack. Take that, twenty-sixteen.

Eight Idlers contributed to this list, including the return of ghostyorb, and the first-time participation of IP, MeanOldPig, and LDG. We don’t always agree on the albums (although this year it came pretty damn close), but we do agree on the fact that, in an outright rejection of the too-many-cooks adage, this might very well be our finest list to date. And the proof is in the playlist. As you browse through the rankings and the blurbs (I use the term “blurb” loosely; since HolyBee’s departure from regular participation, several contributors have been making claims to the King of Verbosity mantle), check out the four Mixcloud mixes for an audio tour through the favorite forty.

Favorites 2016: 40-31 | Accolades Home

Hi-Fi Fifteen: Catalina Wine Mixtape

220px-thebestofnickcaveIt must have been in early 2000. The first non-work related thing djlazybear ever said to me. “Have you heard Johhny Cash’s version of “The Mercy Seat”?

Hell, it was one of the first things he ever said to me, period. I remember, because it caught me completely off-guard. I probably gave him one of those fuck-you-talking-to expressions, like Mac and Dennis defensively reacting to their new neighbor in the burbs. I think I paused and spat back, “What?!”

Turns out, he saw the CD case for The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds on the passenger seat of my car, and was eager to talk music. And talk music we did. That same year djlazybear’s buddy holybee joined our staff, and talking music took on a whole new meaning.

Our way of celebrating songs that we loved took the form of pen & paper lists, incessant arguments, halfass DJ sets, and burned CDs by the caseload. Anyone with musical ability, on the other hand, celebrates songs that he or she loves by covering those tunes. And when bands we love cover songs by other bands that we love… then it just feels like we’re all part of one big celebration. Even if I can’t carry a tune.

A great covers mix needed to be a little more focused. So, in honor of that very first interaction between djlazybear and myself, we set the following parameters for January’s Hi-Fi Fifteen: songs recorded during the Idle Time era (2001 to the present), covering songs originally released during our lifetimes, prior to meeting each other (so, 1972 – 2000). Plus, I’m a big fan of the Catalina Wine Mixer scene from Stepbrothers and was keeping my fingers crossed for some 80’s Joel renditions.

Interestingly enough, however, despite the inspiration from Horatio Sanz’s Uptown Girl, no Billy Joel covers appear on this mix.
Continue reading Hi-Fi Fifteen: Catalina Wine Mixtape

Edamame Makes Beats, Wins Tournaments

Most of us were more than eager to turn the calendar page to January, and bid farewell to a tumultuous 2016. But the past year had its share of high points worthy of celebration, and we still have some accolades to bestow. Idle Time closed out the year with our second annual Tune Tournament, this time bracketing songs in regions honoring four of the many musical icons who passed away over the last twelve months.

Idlers nominated sixty-four favorite songs from recent years, and after six rounds of competition involving sixty-three total matchups and over 10,000 individual votes, we have a winner. Congratulations to Chicago’s Ed Harris, aka Edamame, and Idle Time’s Tune of the Year, “Tree Shadows”!

Edamame may have entered the tourney as a sixteen-seed, but he quickly established that he was not to be taken lightly, besting Chicago’s top seed, Wilco, with a 57% share of the matchup vote. He followed up that victory with solid beatdowns over Jim O’Rourke in round 2, and Whitney in the Sweet 16 round.

“Tree Shadows” was quietly, stealthily, establishing itself as a major competitor not just in the Chicago region, but as a legitimate contender for the Tune Tournament crown. History wasn’t on his side; none of the three instrumental tracks in last year’s tournament even made it past the first round. Then again, none of those songs had a dope ass video like this guy.
Continue reading Edamame Makes Beats, Wins Tournaments

The Holy Bee Recommends, #16: “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner

Holy Bee of Ephesus

In these virtual pages, we’ve already discussed why 1966 was a revolutionary year in 41tfo6prkll-_sy344_bo1204203200_general. Now, to continue our celebration of this landmark year’s 50th anniversary, we’ll get specific. What did 1966 mean to The Beatles? According to Steve Turner’s excellent new book, Beatles ‘66: The Revolutionary Year, it was the crux of their existence as a working band — building on past triumphs, peaking with their most remarkable work, and even sowing the seeds of their eventual demise. Turner considers the events of 1966 too important to be condensed and shoehorned into a typical Beatles bio, and the year deserves its own book.

It was first and foremost a transformative year for them. In the space of just a few months, they went from their matching suits and famous pudding-bowl haircuts, bashing out “She’s A Woman” into a wall of deafening screams, to being draped in beads and velvet…

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2016 Tune Tourney: The Championship

It almost had to come to this. San Francisco vs. Chicago for the Championship, and all associated bragging rights that accompany winning Idle Time’s 2016 Tune Tournament. Not for nothing, but Mark Melancon is a legit closer, and Aroldis is back in New York. This could go either way at this point.

In this corner, 2015 winners The Y Axes, defending their title with “Monsters,” from the recently released Umbra LP. Last year they represented the California region, and this year they proudly champion San Francisco, after a resounding 82% Final Four victory over Morly’s “Plucky,” the Minneapolis representative.

And in the other corner, newcomer Edamame brings “Tree Shadows” to the party, from this year’s Ochre release. Edamame has the honor of representing Chicago, after putting an end to Kero Kero Bonito’s Cinderella season with an 84% victory over the London leaders.

And caught smack in the middle, one of our very own Idlers, lebronald. Born and raised in San Francisco, living in and loving Chicago. What’s it going to be, bro? No one is telling you to make your vote public, but… we’re all pretty curious.

Cast your votes and spread the word, as the Championship matchup closes on Thursday, December 29 at noon. May the best triangular logo win.

Continue reading 2016 Tune Tourney: The Championship

2016 Tune Tourney Final Four

We’re less than a few weeks from the end of the year, and just days away from crowning the champion of this year’s Tune Tournament.

Idle Time’s faculty populated this year’s field with nominations of favorite tracks, grouped into four regions, each memorializing one of the musical icons who passed away in 2016.

ff-capture

Representing San Francisco, and honoring psychedelic rock pioneer Paul Kantner, The Y Axes soared through every matchup. Last year’s champs now have “Monsters” on the verge of another trip to the finals.

But they face competition from Minneapolis native Morly, who won her Twin Cities region and earns the right to represent the hometown of the legendary Prince. “Plucky” is, and then some, trouncing every opponent thus far with at least an 80% share.

The right side of the bracket is a salute to the underdog. Claiming London, and in tribute to David Bowie, Kero Kero Bonito take their infectious “Graduation” from a 16-seed all the way to the Final Four.

They face another 16-seed from the Chicago region. Edamame honors Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White with “Tree Shadows,” the first instrumental track to earn a trip to an Idle Time tourney Final Four.

Cast your votes and spread the word, as both Final Four matchups close on Friday, December 23 at noon.

Continue reading 2016 Tune Tourney Final Four

2016 Tune Tourney Elite Eight: Minneapolis

Only one more matchup to go before we can establish our venerated final four for this year’s Tune Tournament. Which of these two ladies will be selected to rise atop her field of 16 and represent the Minneapolis region?

Will it be Caroline Smith, who recently debuted a new single, “Trying Not To Love You,” from a forthcoming album? Although not yet thirty, she’s already a musical veteran, and our pick for her tournament entry, “Magazine,” is one of our favorite tracks off her 2013 LP.

Or will she be upstaged by tenacious newcomer Morly, whose “Plucky,” from this year’s Something More Holy EP, has been stomping the competition, winning each of its first three matchups with at least an 80% share?

Who moves on to the Final Four? Cast your votes and spread the word, as this matchup closes on Saturday, December 17 at noon. Continue reading 2016 Tune Tourney Elite Eight: Minneapolis