12 Days of Mixmas: Day 4 – Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 4 – Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!


Again, here’s a fine young artist who would have normally been featured later in the Mix, but was pushed up because I lack planning skills. Sorry Ryan. You’re number one in my heart.

Thunderbirds Are Now! have subtley become one of this year’s essential bands. Between rocking faces at Intonation and making the rounds across America, they’ve also managed to record several tracks for their new album (tentatively titled “Make History”).

MP3: TAN! – Make History (unfinished demo that the band’s okay with you having. Seriously, take it)

I kid you not when I say that this is my favorite theme that has yet been picked. It’s witty, yet serious, and very well thought-out. So without any more fuss, let’s get too it!

Mix 4: ‘Top 5 Songs Written by the Beatles that Predicts and/or Predates the Formation of Various Musical Genres’ as argued by Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!

5. MP3: The Beatles – Love Me Do (Power Pop)
This one is fairly easy, but the precise use of harmony, chiming guitars and a soaring, easy to understand chorus about love is basically the blueprint of every power-pop band to ever exist, from the Raspberries and Big Star to Sloan and Superdrag. This song might not be the first to combine all these factors, but it was the first time anybody did it better than anybody else.

4. MP3: The Beatles – I’m a Loser (Slack/Indie Rock/Emo)
Before Beck, Radiohead and Sunny Day Real Estate came along and snivelled about their own self loathing, the Beatles showed that you could be self-deprecating way back in the early ’60s.

3. MP3: The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows (Techno/Electronica/Kraut Rock)
Combining swirling psychedelia with a repetitive melody and wicked sound effects, “Tomorrow Never Knows” could possibly be the first and only Beatles song that could put you in a trance and make you shake that thang simultaneously. The Chemical Brothers didn’t sample and loop the drum track and bassline from this song for nothing.

2. MP3: The Beatles – A Day in the Life (Prog Rock)
Before this song was released in 1967, combining two songs in one was completely unheard of (not to mention its risky running time of 5 minutes and 33 seconds). A few years later, Yes, King Crimson, and even later, the Mars Volta, wouldn’t exist without the Beatles taking the dive into complicated compisiton first.

1. MP3: The Beatles – Happiness is a Warm Gun (Rap/Hip-Hop)
The Beatles are true gangstas.

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 1 – Dean from the SUF
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 2 – Tapes ‘n Tapes
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 3 – John Vanderslice

27 thoughts on “12 Days of Mixmas: Day 4 – Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!

  1. easily the stupidest list i’ve ever read, moronic reasoning coupled with lame correlations…what a tool…

  2. Well for a start “Love Me Do” is decent record but it’s not Power Pop at all. Where’s the big, jangly guitar chords on it? Nowhere.

    And The Beatles’ somehow predicting Rap/Hip-Hop? I assume that was slightly tongue in cheek. Even forgetting James Brown (and The Last Poets and Jamaican DJs) for a minute there are a gazillion “gangster” songs in black music going back to “Stagger Lee” which has roots in the 19th century for crying out loud.

    What I was most objecting to was this notion of The Beatles “inventing” all these genres. They may have popularized a lot of them but they didn’t really invent anything. They were every good synthesizers of other ideas. I quite like The Beatles but these sort of wild claims on their behalf is is the sort of thing that makes me dislike them.

  3. For starters, these aren’t supposed to be term papers. They’re themed mixes that were put together by bands I respect so that you could read them and maybe get a little enjoyment out of them. If Ryan wants to do a little history behind each song and say how it’s affected future genres and/or bands, I highly encourage him to do so. God forbid someone put a little thought into a mix.

    Secondly, I think Ryan did a great job with the reasoning behind his choices. Feel free to expand upon your opinion if you disagree.

  4. I for one appreciate this guy’s attempt to enable out-of-the-box Beatles thinking. Of course, lists like this are largely tongue-in-cheek and not meant to be taken as fact.

    The most important thing to realize about the Beatles, and something that this list highlights, is that they were, above all, predictors of styles, not creators. There have been very few musical artists who can lay claim to “creating” a style of music.

    That said, I’ve never heard of the avant-garde “Happiness” referred to as a proto-gangsta anthem. I know he’s being tongue in cheek here, but then again, so was John when he wrote the damn song. He got the title from a “Soldier of Fortune” magazine article and used it to riff on American gun culture.

    Also, I’d put “Please Please Me” above the slight “Love Me Do” as the pre-eminent power pop awakening. Even Paul and John essentially disowned that song in the years hence as a trifle–their first hit, though.

    He hits the nail on the head with “TMK” and “I’m A Loser”, which was, with “No Reply”, post-Dylan Lennon epitomized.

  5. By saying “post-Dylan Lennon” aren’t you completely destroying your point? Doesn’t that mean that it was Dylan who was the influence, not The Beatles?

  6. For some reason, my comments aren’t showing up.

    Lee, my comment that ended with ‘back up your reasoning’ or whatever was aimed at anonymous. I welcome your discussion and commend you for making good, valid points.

    I’m not looking to start any fights either. Lord knows I can’t win in a battle of fists or wits!

    Good to see that this brought discussion….no matter how awkward ;)

  7. the list says “Predicts and/or Predates the Formation of Various Musical Genres,” not CREATES various musical genres. I’m pretty sure no one truly believes the beatles created gangsta rap. the theme tying this mix together, correct me if i am wrong, is the beatles, so throwing a song by Dylan or James Brown in there just wouldn’t make any sense.

  8. London, you’re being a little too argumentative here (‘destroying’?)…of course Dylan influenced the Beatles’ “I’m a Loser”, but, um, they provided a little musical input of their own, wouldn’t you say? Making a wholly new, completely Beatles, song?

  9. I don’t understand it when people, on music blogs, which are intended to foster discussion of music, say things like “stop blabbering and listen to the music”. That’s why we’re blabbering. Because we have. It would suck if people just took mp3s with no comment, right? I see bloggers bitch about it all the time.

  10. “but, um, they provided a little musical input of their own, wouldn’t you say? Making a wholly new, completely Beatles, song?”

    Well of course, but why say The Beatles “predicted” emo/indie and not Dylan?

    Yes, yes… I know the post is about The Beatles but I’m just pointing out that a lot of it built on a fallacy. It’s like saying Led Zep “predicted” Heavy Metal with “Whole Lotta Love” (which they did) without mentioning The Small Faces’ “You Need Loving” (which they ripped off) or even Wille Dixon.

  11. you’ve got The Small Faces on the brain.

    i think this is the best Mixmas yet, in fact I’ve often discussed with friends how The White Album is just jam packed with songs that (it seems to me) some artists have built careers imitating

  12. ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ is not about what Marathon whatever said it was about; it’s about heroin. “When I hold you in my arm.” It would be best to not argue with me on this.

  13. Charlie —

    No, that’s not true at all. John Lennon said it himself:

    “‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ was another one which was banned on the radio — they said it was about shooting up drugs. But they were advertising guns and I thought it was so crazy that I made a song out of it. It wasn’t about ‘H’ at all. George Martin showed me the cover of a magazine that said: ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun.’ I thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say.”

    – The above was quoted from the Anthology itself.

    I think it would be best if YOU didn’t argue with US on this one ;).

  14. If we take it all as tounge-in-cheek, the list is funny, and I have to admit he included some of my favorite Beatles songs.

    But if he’s serious about this, it’s really quite sad… 5:33 is a “risky” running time? Too bad the Velvet Underground released “Sister Ray” in 1967, which was 17:27. “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” on Blonde on Blonde (1966) was over 11 minutes.

    Sorry to be argumentative, but the overhyping of the Beatles is one of my pet peeves. They were a fun pop band, and they wrote some good songs… but they did not single-handedly create rock music. Gah.

    ~Jordan

  15. Get over it – the whole thing is a little tongue and cheek – But I’ll agree with one thing, the Beatles did not invent rock and roll but they totally reinvented pop music – rubber soul, revolver, white album, sgt pepper, abby road – come on “mr music expert” certanly you can reconize the range of the composition.

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