Apropos recent conversations....

Ben Folds Five - Army - Perfect Moments In Pop

A nice appreciation of a darn good choon....


I am thankful for...

Red Heads who call their songs "girls".

MP3: Sugar


Heart Attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack

I have to write about Elton John and Billy Joel. They are the absolute definition of Piano\Rock. They are are interwined in eveyone over 20's consciousness, showing the world that there is little difference between camp, retro-pastiche and "album-orientated rock". How did these two lads from the depths of ebony/ivory depravity do it?

I don't know.

But I still want to shout out to them. I bet that most people have a favorite Biily Joel and Elton John song. They are song writers after all. Do we think of Steve Perry as a song writer? Do we even consider Mick Jagger as a song writer? Nope. I think that that Elton and Joel have somehow inherited the mantle of Tin Pan Alley song stylest. They surely owe more to Lennon/McCartney than Cole Porter. But their solo-ness gives them a claim to the troubadour/songwriter vacuum that was missing in the era of Blur Oyster Cult and Fleetwood Mac. People like a troubadour, dammit.

I don't have to post any MP3's because we know them all!
Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Piano Man, Matter of Time, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Goodnight Saigon, Scenes from An Italian Restaurant, Sad Songs Say So Much. If it is worth knowing we already know it. Everytime I go into a grocery store I hear a Billy Joel song. They are more saturated than The Who, Led Zepplin and Queen. I honstly don't understand it. I can't disparage their talent at all; why so big, though?

Maybe we just really dig somebody playing the piano. Look at the perverse popularity of Piano Bars. Alex thinks piano players are funny (ask him about his ingenious VH1 Classic Keyboard Player theory), but he, like us all, had plenty of kind words for Ben Folds. Can we define the difference between the "piano man" and Ben Folds? [Roxanne gave me my first taste of Ben Folds at Jones Beach in 1998--truly memorable show] Is it "Ben Folds is just Gen X Billy Joel, isn't he?" He's awesome lyrically and he plays the **** out of the piano, but it still can't really compare with Radiohead or Wilco. Piano/Rock, which is perfectly typified by Billy Joel and Elton John, will always be a second class citizen to Guitar\Rock.

Now tell me what your favorite John or Joel song is case I know you like "Big Shot".
Or is it "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart"?


Thank you for inviting me, boys.

I'm so pleased to be asked to contribute to Ranh Ranh. However, the does of femininity you so require my not come whilst we bang our heads in sheer joy to the topic at hand, piano rock. I'm pleased with my co-columnists' nod the the historical, yet I sit here and think "Why on earth hasn't anyone started the discussion of Ben Folds????" Okay, it'll be me. That's why I'm here, right? For the moderninity. And the femininity.

Not much piano rock rocks harder than One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces. That's why it was not only the perfect choice to start the album "Whatever and Ever Amen," but it's a perfect choice for this topic. It's the piano that makes it rock so hard, friends. I love this album for many reasons, one of them is that it's a trio. Piano, bass and drums, recorded in a living room with such enthusiasm and joy that you can't help but just fall in love instantly.

At 1:47 into the song the piano takes you on a little joyride that tells you this is not your average three-dude-rock-band, and leads into the bitchin' pounding octaves of joy at 2:15 that functions as a bridge. Are you in love yet? Also, check out the little funny at 3:20. You also can't help but enjoy the smart assed lyrics. This guy's the whole package.

Also, I couldn't in good conscience, not bring up the rockin'-ness of Song For the Dumped, which should really be known as Give Me My Money Back. More good piano-driven rock, but check out the mini-display of piano virtuosity at 2:07, even though it sounds a little out of tune, it's hard to bothered by it when you're pleased by the old-timey quality of the piano sound. Basically the arrangement just kicks butt - check out the last chorus if you don't believe me.


Introducing a bouncing baby...

Hello readers of Ranh Ranh. Mighty Alex and Testosterone Jeff have decided we need a dose of femininity at Ranh Ranh.

Thereby, we are extremely honored and proud to introduce Roxanne to our team.

We're going to think outside the box, maximize our margins and increase production.


Mas Beat-les

This song is not my favorite, but is one that I, and I'm assuming many other young people, find to be memorable from a very early age. Along those lines, it is probably a pre-consciousness Piano\Rock template, perfectly pertinent for our 2-sided table discussion. Behold its melodic bassline, banging away. Paul sounds like he is at a circa 1961 biker bar, wooing the Hell's Angels with his conception of testosterone imbued intensity. Or something like that.

MP3: Lady Madonna


It's only me, it's not my mind....

Skip to The Beatles? What about piano-rock like Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Ray Charles?

Fine, I'll skip to The Beatles.

As far as early Beatles, a few songs come to mind for their use of piano: the lovely playing on their cover of "You Really Got A Hold On Me", the weird dissonance (especially for 1963) on "Not A Second Time", "You Won't See Me", "Martha My Dear", "You Never Give Me Your Money" -- but I'm going to write about "I Want To Tell You".

It's a George song from my favorite album in the world, ever. Paul's piano propels the track and in addition to the rythmic intensity it brings, it also slips insistent dissonant chords under George's vocal melody making the song 5x more interesting. Especially the aggressive -- dammit there's nothing else to call them -- Monkisms underneath the "it's alright" and "I don't minds". Not content with merely rocking the Joanna, Macca also chips in with a bassline that absolutely *makes* the bridge, as well as cool backing vocals throughout, especially the little Indian-sounding thing he's doing in the fadeout.

This is a terrific George Harrison song, but it's Paul adding most of the truly interesting and (yes Paul -- I noticed) avant-garde bits that make it compelling even on its 750th listen.

...And he segues to the new Paul McCartney album, which is actually really good. I'm sure I'll be posting something from it at some point, but it really is nice to have a new Paul McCartney album that you just can't stop playing. It's been a while (mmmm 1989, I guess).

Related Ask Metafilter thread: "I'm Making A Piano Rock mix. What should be on it?"

MP3: The Beatles -- I Want To Tell You


In the begining of Piano\Rock....

there was Little Richard.

MP3: Good Golly Miss Molly

I don't think it was his piano playing so much as his charismatic singing that made this such a powerful track.
It is certainly more Rockin' than most of the Top Ten of 1956:

1 MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS - Dean Martin ¤ 2 WHATEVER WILL BE WILL BE - Doris Day 3 SIXTEEN TONS - Tennessee Ernie Ford ¤ 4 HOUND DOG - Elvis Presley 5 JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN - Johnnie Ray 6 DON'T BE CRUEL - Elvis Presley 7 HEARTBREAK HOTEL - Elvis Presley 8 ROCK AND ROLL WALTZ - Kay Starr ¤ 9 YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS - Mitch Miller 10 THE WAYWARD WIND - Gogi Grant

Baby Boomers were turning 10. I bet they were getting sick of "The Yellow Rose of Texas"

They wanted this instead:

Good golly Miss Molly, well you sure like to ball
You're rocking and you're rolling, won't you hear your mama call
From the early, early morning to the early, early night
Could see Miss Molly's rocking at the house of blue light


But what I really like best does, in fact, involve the piano playing. It is the rhythmic tension between the piano and the bass\drums. In the parlance of our times the groove is Hott!

Now Alex you can skip to The Beatles.


Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Sir Alex!
If you haven't listened to this in a while give it a tumble.

MP3: Birthday

Hard to believe Bjork is 17 on this record. She sounds more or less the same now, which just proves to me that she is, in that hackneyed phrase, a true original.

Rilo Kiley--

They are great. Melodists, rockers, sentimentalists, beuatiful, and Miss Jenny definitely has the Listen To Me gene.
Even K-Rock would have to pay attention to the oversharing in this song.

MP3: More Adventurous

They make me think of another band that you turned me on to, The Mommyheads. Where Jenny is all woman, the singer of the Mommyheads, Adam Elk, is all guy. A sensitive guy perhaps, but guy he is. Those two are a marriage made in hypothetical couple heaven. The direct connection to "Pull Me In Tighter" is their employment of the Electric Piano, your "Fender Rhodes", your "Whirly", your one-way ticket to seventies mood swings. I love the electric piano, unconditionally. It is the first sound I go to when I am making pseudo-Smooth Jazz at home on my GarageBand.

MP3: Jaded


There's no need for depression....

I'm back, bitches, and I'm almost 31. Lots of potential things to post about -- the new McCartney album (this one's good, really!), piano-driven rock music (this *will* be the subject of some back and forth), but I have 10 minutes before punkrockgirl's chocolate chip birthday presents finish baking, so I'm going to post an unreleased Rilo Kiley song and talk -- briefly, because I can go on -- about how I love them.

It starts with Jenny Lewis. Yes, she's cute. Yes, when she wears the miniskirts with the socks pulled up to her knees, she's hot (that thumbnail is clickable, by the way...go on, you know you want to).

Yes, the Amelie, "who me?" faces she pulls during the video for The Frug which I've uploaded for you here in Quicktime format are somewhat (i.e disgustingly) charming. But let's try our hardest to put that to one side for just a moment, shall we?

Pull Me In Tighter is a song they've been doing on tour for a while, and it bodes very well for whatever they do next. It's got shades of late '60s soul thanks to that electric piano, one of their trademark super-catchy choruses, a charming (what else?) vocal from Jenny, lyrics that somehow tap directly into the 31-year old educated white person's private thoughts, a backwards guitar solo, and a song structure that makes the odd detour when you don't expect it. In other words, it's another great Rilo Kiley song. This was recorded at a session for London indie station XFM.

Rilo Kiley: Pull Me In Tighter