Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ultimate Rock Ballads: a big music no no, even as a goof

My fiancee and I were flipping through the channels a couple weeks ago, actually around Thanksgiving, and we kept running into the informercial for the Time Life "Ultimate Rock Ballads" collection. Now of course most of the music on the compilation is sort of guilty pleasure type material but watching the commercial and all the live performances they displayed I figured that the collection would be made up mostly of at least semi-cool guilty pleasures like "Sister Christian" by Nightranger. Some of the stuff by bands like Foreigner, Meatloaf, and Boston might be in the realm of guilty pleasure but it's all well-written, stimulating, and catchy; however, all the best songs were shown during the commercial and the bad ones were conveniently left out.

Since I love to indulge in cheesy music sometimes (along with some of the good stuff on the collection) I acquired Ultimate Rock Ballads (notice I said acquired not bought) and even for the price I paid, I felt gypped. There are a few good songs but the rest are so shitty that it's not even worth it and this is coming from a guy who loves the 80s. For a lot of artists on the collection, whoever compiled the songs managed to include about a dozen or so pretty solid bands but picked all of their worst material. For example, if I only knew Cheap Trick by their 80s ballad "The Flame" I'd NEVER listen to them again.

So, in conclusion, skip this crappy collection and if you do decide to get it, (and I almost never encourage this) don't actually pay for it.

At any rate, the commercial is hilarious and here is a screen shot from Rachael's favorite part:

Just look at the guy from Toto's mustache. Such a passionate mustache for such a passionate song. Rosanna! Rosanna! Rachael and I could not stop laughing at this part. He was trying a little too hard here. I thought his head was going to explode.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflecting on the days when Goths were Goths: Bauhaus!

Last year, I started investigating lots of influential post-punk bands after falling in love with Joy Division. Post-punk music led me into early goth bands like The Fall and the Birthday Party. I learned that goth, in its truest definition, has nothing to do with the little Hot Topic wearing, attention-seeking posers who have succeeded in hi-jacking the word over the past ten years. Early goth, true goth, is dark, dancy, and provokes melancholy, contemplation, and restraint.

The vocals are dramatic and frequently tinged with a bowie-esque British accent. The intensity of goth vocals often points to an almost operatic style of music; good goth bands are dramatic without being totally overboard sentimental. A singer who paved the way for the stylings of many goth/dark post-punk bands that followed was James Murphy of Bauhaus fame. Murphy's vocals are beautiful, warbling, staccato cries of pain and mourning that differ greatly from genre pioneer Ian Curtis whose voice was a crooning baritone. Curtis idolized Jim Morrison of the Doors and this probably inspired the low booming voice he used while singing, which is strangely very different from his high British speaking voice. The vocals of James Murphy are high and shrill but have the potential to be just as grave and jarring as Curtis'.

Bauhaus carried on and expanded on the Joy Division tradition of simple but infectious beats the rely on repetitive and great-sounding drum and bass patterns which ultimately carry the guitar part in most songs (think of Shadowplay by Joy Division, very drum and bass driven). At times the guitar is only a means of tying together the drums and bass like in the Bauhaus song "Muscle in Plastic" where the guitar is simply used for ambient clicking noises and offbeats. Of course there are some guitar driven songs like "All We ever wanted was Everything" but they're outnumbered by the snappier songs that turn darkness into danciness and through a controlled punk sound (hence post-punk).

Albums I recommend (in no particular order):
-Bela Lugosi's Dead
-The Sky's Gone Out
-In the Flat Field

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flaming Lips and White Dwarves Take on Pink Floyd

At first I was nervous about this version of Dark Side of the Moon. I heard a bit, about twenty seconds, of "Money" on the iTunes store and I was thinking "NO!NO!NO! This is ALL wrong!" but when I listened to the album from beginning to end I was pretty satisfied. The songs all contain enough Lips and enough Floyd to attract fans of either band even if fans of one are not necessarily fans of the other.

However, I was a little skeptical of the Henry Rollins vocals at first. I love Black Flag as much as the next guy but I was worried that including Rollins might just be a dumb gimmick to attract people who would otherwise be uninterested in the album. I was wrong. Rollins' vocals fit unusually well and give the recording a modern sounding edge that helps define the album as a work of its own rather than just a giant Pink Floyd cover. Rollins' voice coupled with the campy but cool falsetto background vocals gave the entire album a distinctly Flaming Lips feel.

Gone are the solos from "Money" and "Time" that defined their original recordings. Instead of Gilmour's masterful guitar playing the spaces are filled with less stimulating but equally appropriate ambience or simple melody. But at the same time, for songs like "Any Colour you like" (my favorite song on the original album) the However It's really better that the Lips didn't feel the need to emulate each guitar solo on EVERY song because I think it allowed them to make this album an interpretation of Pink Floyd rather than just a flat, boring, straight cover. Coyne's nephew's band Star Death and White Dwarves added some different sounding vocals to a few songs but the band is similar enough to the Lips that their playing is not jarring when heard alongside. The resulting sound is a more relaxed and more somber version of Dark Side that relies more on ambiance than straight composition.

The album definitely had the potential to devolve into a super-pretentious, long, drawn-out, version of Dark Side but ultimately, the sound is good, there is lots of originality but at the same time, there's a lot of fidelity to the original recording.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Human League!

I've been revisiting the discographies of lots of 80s bands who only had one or two big chart toppers. So since I've always liked the song "Don't you want me" by the Human League I decided to listen to large chunks of their discography and was pleasantly surprised to find some great synth-pop whose influence I can definitely hear in lots of other artists.

Here are a few good Human League songs to add to your libraries:

-The Obligatory "Don't you want me"

-The slightly less popular but just as infectious "Things that dreams are made of" (which was actually sampled in Digitalism's twenty minute long, collage/dj set of electronic songs "Kitsune Tabloid".

-"Love Action (I Believe in Love)"

-The super-catchy yet morose "Life on your own"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shit, MTV strikes a favorite Band of mine once again

About two weeks ago my fiancee called me while I was in my dorm and delivered some really disturbing news. Apparently, Passion Pit is being played on MTV! I was so pissed when I found out. I've been listening to Passion Pit for more almost a year now and I was thrilled when I saw them being promoted on iTunes as single of the week a while back. I want people to know how great Passion Pit is but I'm not so enthusiastic about their appeal that I want the uncultured philistines at places like Rolling Stone or MTV to manhandle their delicate, new image. Thousands of dumb scene kids are going to make Passion Pit their favorite band by knowing only the song "Sleepyhead" which will be their new favorite jam next "Sugar we're going down".

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jay Reatard Live!

On Tuesday night I was fortunate enough to catch Jay Reatard at Walter's on Washington. I squeezed this concert in the day before my philosophy final (which I did well on despite the late night) and it was certainly worth the risk. I met Jay before the show, shook his hand, and got an autograph when I spied him hanging out behind a card table displaying vinyls and shirts for sale.
I approached him reluctantly because I didn't see anyone else going up and didn't want to look like an idiot if it wasn't him; but I did and I must say that he's a classy guy to sit outside and meet fans one on one.

The two opening bands sucked hard. I don't think that if you saw them preform you wouldn't think I'm a prick for saying that. The lead singer to the first one sounded like Jello Biafra when he talked so I figured it might be sort of good but he sure as hell didn't sing like him. I normally cut opening bands a lot of slack but I actually wished I didn't come early after the first minute or two of them going on. I think their name was American Sharks or something. I can't remember the second one. Their vocalist looked like Andy Dick. Weird.

Jay Reatard came on stage and immediately activated what seemed to be a stored sample or looping effect pedal and the amps began to pump out some of the loudest feedback I've ever heard at any concert and I was standing very close to the stage. Even though it was just a little bit louder than anything I'm used to at most shows, the tone was great and he had this excellent reverb/delay effect that really added to the fierceness of his playing. His technique was simple but super fast and creative; it almost made me think of Jack White with more punk influence. About half way into his set I got dizzy from the sheer volume and feedback but I was so into the music that I just stepped back a little and got over it.

The best songs were "I'm watching you" and "Trapped here" but his whole set was good.

I only got my full hearing back yesterday hahaha. It was awesome.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunset Rubdown: Dragonslayer (and other things)

I picked up Sunset Rubdown's new album in early October and I really enjoyed every song. The highlights of the album are the beautiful and somehow sad sounding "You go on ahead" and the hard driving "Black Swan" but the entire album is exceptional and should have wide appeal for fans and new listeners alike. For those of you who don't know about this excellent Canadian band, they started as a side-project for Wolf Parade (another great Canadian band) front-man, Spencer Krugg but are now a full time group and have released five LPs and two EPs since 2005.

I love Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Swan Lake, and Sunset Rubdown; all are related to Krugg. Sunset Rubdown is by far the quirkiest with songs like "The Courtesan has sung" which is an otherworldly round being sung by Krugg overdubbed a few times accented by strange lyrics, super-simple guitar and almost tribal percussion.

A classmate of mine, Kevin Connell, introduced me to Wolf Parade in the fall of 2007 while I was attending Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. I received six mix CDs as gifts for our customary week-long, secret santa activity and learned at the end of the week that my gifts were from Kevin. He had an excellent taste in music. He introduced me to Wolf Parade, the Handsome Furs (another Krugg side-project) and countless other bands I'd never heard but now enjoy listening to all the time. We even attended the same Wolf Parade concert later that summer in Boston.

On the 13th of October, 2009, Kevin Connell was struck by a car and killed while riding his bike home from his work in Montreal. He was a brilliant writer, student, and musician. He planned to pursue music in Montreal but his life was cut short by a reckless, possibly drunk, driver. Whenever I listen to any band fronted by Spencer Krugg I'll always think of Kevin.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weekly Review: Jay Reatard, Watch Me Fall

I've been listening to this master of Garage Punk for a couple months now and it seems like he might break into the mainstream with his newest full length album. I personally love all the singles on the Matador Records Singles compilations but it's nice to hear Jay produce his fourth full LP where I can hear him try out some new concepts like the choral harmonies in "Nothing Now". My personal favorite songs off the album are "Hang Them All" and "Nothing Now" which sound a little different than what I'm accustomed to hearing from him as far as tempo and instrumentation (you've even got some strings in "There is no Sun"). "I'm watching you" is also amazingly catchy, especially during the little break where it's just Jay singing and drummer drumming.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A New Career in a New Town

I'm heading out to Texas in just days, leaving all my old friends behind and I have no fucking idea how I'm going to cope. I have my awesome girlfriend but I need to make friends down there and I don't think I'm going to find anyone like my old gang from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.
I'm listening to a lot of David Bowie's Low lately and preparing myself for the inevitable feeling of loss I know I'll feel not being at Thomas More but I can't dwell on it; it's time for a new career in a new town.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Perez Hilton makes me lmao roflcopter lolololol

Has anyone actually read this guy's blog? What a tragedy that he's been so successful. I've known about him for a long and time and heard his bigoted rants about Miss California and I was secretly pretty elated that knocked Perez off his sparkly high horse with a well timed punch to the face but I've never actually taken the time to read his famous blog, before tonight.

Well even for a lowlife, Hollywood, media-whore, I was pretty disappointed by this blog.
He writes like a thirteen year old girl, for crying out loud. Just my two cents.

Flame On!

With great relish I downloaded and dove into the Flaming Lips' newest EP after months of anticipating the release of their next studio album, Embryonic. The EP contains just a taste of the Lips' latest work at only three tracks but should be enough to satisfy me until the new album's projected release date of Septemeber.

Coyne seems to be moving the band back to a more experimental sound than the stellar but admittedly more commercial; At War with the Mystics. Though the tracks seem like they would be a bit less accessible to a casual audience the band appears to be preserving their sound rather than making any drastic changes.

My favorite track is "Convinced of the Hex" which is somehow vageuly remeniscient of the Pink Floyd song "Let there be more Light", probably because of the mysterious sounding key and the octave-jumping bassline.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

A History of Taste

Today I was reflecting on the way my taste in music has been shaped over the years and I realized that it all started with an exploration of progressive rock music. My mother has always listened to and exposed me to all of the good staple bands that should influence one to develop a well rounded taste in modern rock music. I was raised on Pink Floyd, David Bowie, the Doors, the Cars and other bands that a lot of people would now classify as classic rock. The first band I stared listening to independent of my mother's supervision was the legendary Black Sabbath (the Ozzy Osbourne years of course, none of that Ronnie James Dio shit). When I was about twelve I was on one of our many yearly trips to NYC during which my mom took me into the large Tower Records outlet and I purchased my first CD: Black Sabbath's hit album, Paranoid. I quickly fell in love with the long, intricate guitar solos of War Pigs and Fairies Wear Boots played by a guitarist I still consider one of my all-time favorites, Tony Iommi. His playing, while it certainly signified a guitarist of great skill, was not as fast as most and focused on phrases rather than just speed (much like David Gilmour) and commanded more attention from me than someone like Eddie Van Halen would have.

I fell in love with long, drawn out instrumentals and started listening to bands like King Crimson, Hawkwind, Tangerine Dream, and Yes. These bands are wonderful but I was disappointed to find that today's Progressive rock bands (and yes, I realize Black Sabbath isn't prog) positively pale in comparision to those of the seventies. Dreamtheater and Trivium made me yawn and I wasn't even drawn in very much by Porcupine Tree or Opeth. These bands were so derivative that I eventually decided to start looking in other veins. I needed to reset my fractured taste so I didn't end up as a helpless metal-kid. I was no longer wooed by the sounds of ostentatious, meandering five minutes guitar solos that hobbled along with no end in sight. While I still enjoyed the bands of rock music's classic era I needed music with more structure and less fluff.

I needed to find bands that would lead me to appreciate good contemporary music. Two major influences: Frank Zappa and Joy Division opened up genres for me that I might not have otherwise listened to. I was immediately taken in by the genius, humor, and eccentricity of Frank Zappa and his many projects. His whole discography is a giant collage of different genres, a palimpsest of ideas and musical stylings and it introduced me to nearly every kind of music that I'd been shutting out during my prog only days. I learned to appreciate jazz, blues, soul, funk, classical music, and avantgarde composition and to boot, he was an American so I learned a lot about music history in my own country.

Joy division introduced me to grittier and more emotional lyric writing dealing with the agony of the human condition but with some of the most restrained song writing I've seen, to this day. Ian Curtis taught me to thumb my nose at whiny, sentimental lyricists who wallow in self pity but have nothing to be upset about. Curtis had real problems, such as epilepsy and manic depression which resulted in multiple suicide attempts yet his lyrics were not pathetic but powerful; this probably is the reason that I feel such contempt for Green Day and bands that sound similar.

This is just a smattering of all my musical adventures but these two bands caused an avalanche of new bands I've come to enjoy and recommend them to all.

Sometimes it's just interesting to map the progression of something as arbitrary as taste. I didn't really know how I listened to what I do now until I sat down and thought about it here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Man Man does Milford

On the fifteenth of July I saw Man Man play at Daniel Street Cafe in Milford and it was easily the best show I've gone to this summer. If you're not familiar with the Philadelphia band then I can only encourage you to listen to a few of their songs because it's pretty difficult to do their unique sound much justice with any number of words. The press likes to compare them to Frank Zappa and Tom Waits, both artists whose influence I can definitely hear, but Man Man is so much more than a mere synthesis of two styles. The band's ensemble includes horns, saxes, guitars, keyboards, a xylophone, and various other pieces of unusual noise-making paraphernalia; which is, doubtless, the reason for the Zappa comparison (along with the occasional high pitched, doowop background vocals and the singer's unmistakeable resembalance to the man himself). The voice of front man, Honus Honus, whose off-stage name escapes me, is gravelly and crooning like the voice of Tom Waits crossed with that of a hardcore singer's. Most of the lyrics are sung but at times, they're screamed for emphasis, like in the chorus of the song "Top Drawer".

In concert, Man Man plays with great energy and even greater volume. Percussion was perhaps the loudest instrument of the night and was not limited to the drumset but also included things like trash cans and coffee cans.
Within minutes of the show's opening I found myself fighting through a veritable sea of flailing hipsters to get a good peek at the theatrics of Honus Honus. The loud music fomented a regular mosh pit, which I used to my advantage by creeping up to the very front for the last half hour of the set.

Honus was a sight to see and was certainly worth the pushing and shoving. He came on stage dressed at first in a flowing green garb which when combined with his beard and facial hair made me think immediately of the cover of the fz album, we're only in it for the money. It was epic.

Go see them before you die.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Space Truckin'

I love the flaming lips but my first reaction to hearing about Wayne Coyne's nephew fronting a band with the Lips as a major influence was: "great, we're in for a mediocre, amateur ish version of the flaming lips". This is because I'm such an unapologetic, headstrong, music snob but despite my stubborness I was impressed by their first full album; The Birth. The music, while reminiscent of the flaming lips, was certainly able to stand on it's own. Like the flaming lips, Stardeath has a sound heavily influenced by space-rock ; the 70s genre of rock characterized by synthesizers, sci-fi lyrics, and rich dimension-filled production (examples include Pink Floyd and Hawkwind). Bands like Stardeath and the Lips demonstrate a sort of reimagining of space-rock which is just a bit poppier and more accessible to the average listener without making it as boring as most pop music tends to be lately. The album contains a good variety of material from the funky "Those who are from the sun return to the sun" to the catchy "Can't get away" to the melancholy "Country Ballad". This band has such wide appeal to so many different listeners.

Metal Lyrics: huh?

Warning: if you are a die-hard metal-head then the below blog entry
WILL offend you and fill you with anger and compel you to leave and listen to bands with names like bloodfilth and burningvengfulgargoyleballs while you brood in your self-imposed metal kid

Metal kid, what the hell is your problem? How can you tolerate the lyrics of your genre? With very few exceptions (S.O.A.D for example, and Dragonforce which makes fun of overly dramatic metal lyrics) metal lyrics seem to be a kitschy rehashing of corny, Christian-phobic, wannabe deep and thoughtful, 80's hairband lyrics. While hair-metal can be a lot of fun, I don't think anyone is going to run to its defense as a source of lyrical genius.

My favorite example of faux-philosophical, faux-meaningful lyrics even, is from the Dio song Holy Diver. The whole song is lyrically absurd but here are the most entertaining words:

Ride the tiger!
You can see his stripes but you know he's clean
Oh don't you know what I mean?

No Ronnie, no. I don't know what you mean. I don't know what the fuck you're talking about and anyone who says that they "know what you mean" is living in the same pretentious, metal-head, fantasy-land that you are. Dio and artists like him are hacks! Metal artists should go back to their true proto-metal roots rather than get inspiration from hackneyed 80's nostalgia. Look at Black Sabbath and Deep Purple or even Iggy and the Stooges! They are the true forerunners of metal, not Night Ranger or Motley Crue! If mainstream metal wants to have a shot at originality then it has to break free of all the stupid cliches that make everyone groan and stereotype it as vapid and thoughtless. Metal needs to return to it's roots rather than rely on the period which made it a laughingstock in the first place.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let them smoke $ 6.50 packs of cigarettes

I am so happy to be back in the US but besides all the tedious class-warfare rhetoric from Barney's Frank and the marginalization of dissenters (something I've anticipated) I have been disappointed in the gov's decision to raise the cigarette tax. A pack of cigarettes in CT cost around 5 and change when I left and now they're an average of 6 and change because the government needs to fuel its bail-out happy budget. Let me offer a hearty "fuck that" in response to the rapacious Obama administration's thirst for more of my money. Thank God for twofer deals. I got 2 packs of Parliament lights for 10 bucks today; a good deal even before I left for Italy.

Yay for the nanny state.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My favorite Bird-influenced indie band from Texas of 2008

Rook is the latest album from the curiously bird-themed, Austin Texas band, Shearwater (also the name of a stiff-winged seabird). I'm not familiar with any of their earlier stuff so I have nothing to compare it to but the first song I heard from Rook (also a bird) was the snow leopard in which Jonathan Meigburg's angelic falsetto made me think immediately of Thom Yorke. Even the music in the snow leopard reminds me of a Radiohead song (Pyramid Song; tell me if you disagree). I've heard people call Meiburg's vocals overly dramatic but seriously fuck them, they're just jealous.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

King Ink

Patrick and I went to Swan Song Tattoo in Marconi (a couple blocks past Trastevere) and got inked. He got the Radiohead symbol from Meeting People is Easy and I gave the guy a freehand drawing of an electric guitar. The guy who did mine was really cool, he had Justice playing in background and we talked about them while he worked.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Covers for a Cause

A cover compilation called War Child- Heroes vol. 1 just came out and the proceeds are being offered to help children affected by war. It's good music and it helps me purge some of my American guilt that it's supposed to be politically incorrect for me not to have. Seriously, I care about the children but I'm no Sheryl Crow fan (I fucking hate her in fact).

I downloaded Hot Chip's cover of Transmission by Joy Division and I liked it a lot. I might even download the rest of this compilation. v

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Warm Leatherette

The other day I was listening to "Losing My Edge", one of my favorite songs by LCD Soundsystem. The track is about an old-school music aficionado being outdone by a new generation of hipsters. There's a part in the song where Murphy gives a list of bands that definitely influenced LCD Soundsystem and one he named was the normal. I was like, huh...never heard of them anywhere else. So I searched iTunes and I turned up only one single and I was thinking, crap not another artist that I have to torrent...

But the normal, I found out after doing some research, only produced two tracks: warm leatherette and T.V.O.D. The former of the two is an unsettling synth-pop track about a car wreck that ends with the laughably strange conclusion of lovemaking in the flames. The ladder is about an addiction to TV and bears an unmistakable resemblance in song structure to warm leatherette. The vocals remind me of someone reading a psalm to music; like The Talking Heads or The Modern Lovers the lyrics sound almost more like a story being read than straight singing. The music consists of looped synth samples over drum machine that should sound annoying, but behind Miller it somehow works.

I figured that it's worth bringing up the normal since so few people have heard of them. They are an interesting little project and it will only take you...oh..6 minutes and 16 seconds to hear their whole
body of work.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Last week I bought the soundtrack to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and I'm really pretty impressed. I haven't seen the movie yet and I'm not necessarily in a hurry but I found out about the album after hearing an unreleased Vampire Weekend song called, Ottoman. The song is exclusive so I went out on a limb and bought the whole soundtrack.
I'd listened to We are Scientists, Vampire Weekend, Rogue Wave, and the Shout Out Louds but the other bands were new to me. There are a couple interesting bands on there. Check out Trust Your Stomach by Marching Band. Best track as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How to Disappear Completely

Here are the things I'm doing in Rome to enjoy myself and to not piss anyone off or get myself killed:

-I always try to be very nice to those Italians I talk with, but not in a patronizing remember-which-country-I'm-from way.

-I am committed to learning as much Italian as I can here. I can't even tell you how annoying it is to me when I see someone (an American especially) who has obviously made no effort to learn the language and is visibly agitated when an Italian isn't one-hundred percent fluent in English.

-With a couple exceptions, I try and avoid getting hammered. I love the United States dearly and don't want to soil her reputation by yarking all over the bar. No, thank God, that hasn't happened to me (yet?).

-I don't carry my camera everywhere; I'm going to be here for 3 months so there's no need to be a slave to it.

-I avoid McDonalds like the plague (not that I frequent them in the US either).

-Being a musician, I try be generous towards buskers.

Getting lost in Rome helps me to forget about all the political bullshit going on back in the states. Sometimes it feels good to just disappear.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dig yourself LAZARUS!!! Dig yourself. . .

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is the latest offering of Nick Cave and the Bad seeds and even though it's been out for a couple months now I only found it after reading Pitchfork's top 100 songs of 08. I am a huge fan of Nick Cave's work in his first band, the dark, twisted, sort-of-sick-in-the-head goth/post-punk group: The Birthday Party. I fell in love with his throaty, warbling voice after listening to the 1982 album Junkyard and up until a couple weeks ago never really listened to his work in the Bad Seeds. While nothing compares to the macabre and humorously screwed-up lyrics of the Birthday Party (especially in songs like Release the Bats) the Bad Seeds succeed as a more accessible and mainstream outlet for Nick Cave's creative genius.

Dig does a good job of mixing fast, catchy tracks like "Dig Lazarus Dig!!!" with slower piano driven tracks like those found on The Boatman's Call. The storytelling and odd images in many of the album's tracks are reminiscent of Frank Zappa and the Mothers or Tom Waits (two of the highest compliments I feel I can pay a rock artist). Lastly, the production is gritty enough to add integrity to the recordings and it doesn't feel overproduced. Dig is very satisfying album, especially after a hiatus of four years, which is normally enough time to really make me worry whether a band is finally going lose its edge.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Bought a wireless router yesterday. I've been in Rome since saturday without internet and it probably sounds pathetic, but at times the lack of wi-fi has been crippling. I've been barhopping and studying and smoking like a chimney since I got here and I feel so at home; especially now that I can blog etc. It took me four days with almost no internet access to realize the gravity of my Facebook addiction. When I discovered there was no wireless at the Villa I was cursing and clenching my fists and banging on my keyboard. But now, like a junkie who's found a fix after days of crawling through the gutters in search of tricks and dealers, my cravings have been satisfied. Now back to replying to the long quei of emails inquiring on where I am and if I'm dead or not.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I will be leaving for London at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning and will return from Rome in the spring. Will she ever forgive me?

Monday, January 19, 2009

No Surprises (not really anyway)

Radiohead is rereleasing a couple albums with bonus material. But I wasn't too surprised when I saw what the bonus tracks were. Most of these songs have been floating around the internet for years but I'll probably buy one or two of the rehashed albums just to support the band. I was sort of bummed to see that there was no announcement of Kid A or Amnesiac rereleases though.

What I'm really waiting for is a price drop for the 2 disc box-set edition of In Rainbows. It costs eighty bucks US; so it would be nice to see it released just on CD or iTunes, minus the vinyl for those who can't afford it. I only know a couple Radiohead listeners who have even heard of the second disc and I think the high price tag is what has kept it from catching on. The second disc is amazing and I hope it gets more exposure in 09 than it did last year.

Hmm. . .

I was browsing iTunes yesterday and something strange occurred to me. Whether the phenomenon is new, or just something that I've never noticed, I'm not quite sure but it seems that many artists are releasing singles of songs that have already been released on full albums; which seems kind of redundant to me. I can understand the appeal of buying an EP with an already released song and one or more non-album tracks but what is the point of releasing a straight up ninety nine cent single for an already released song? Maybe this practice is a vestige of releasing vinyl singles but weren't those released before the complete album they were on? There are so many singles with either one old track or the old track plus a sub par remix of the original. I love B-sides so I'll still be combing itunes for singles and short EPs but now what I normally find are disappointing post-album singles.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Robots fucking in the middle of the Mini Mall

Ever since Dear Science came out I've been reminded once again of how good TV on the Radio is. I was able to get some of their older stuff, b-sides and bootlegs etc, and I dug up a really interesting concept album called OK Calculator. Self-released and distributed by band members, OK Calculator is a weird assortment of lo-fi demo tracks that vary in style and complexity.
There's an impressive amount of acapella singing on this album and none of the vocalists are afraid to make it freaky and discordant. Even though I really like it, some of the shit is on there just ridiculous, like Netti Fritti (just listen and you'll see what I mean). Amazing tracks include: On a train, Say you do, Hurt you, Freeway, Robots, and Bicycles are red hot. You might only be able to get this album via alternative methods. . . *cough cough bit torrent*

Awesome V

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sic transivit Gloria Mundi. . .

This is the last 2008-catchup-entry I plan to do, but on September 16th a very important person died: Rick Wright, keyboardist for Pink Floyd. I was sad to see that so few musicians and bloggers stopped to commemorate his contributions to one of the greatest bands of all time. With Rick died my naive hopes that Pink Floyd would stop feuding and reunite for a final world tour. He was an amazing musician but now he's finally gone to play the great gig in the sky.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

08 picks

These albums are in no particular order:
Cut Copy> In Ghost Colours
The Wombats> A Guide to Love, Loss, and Desperation
Ladtytron> Velocifero
Hercules and Love Affair> self titled
Sigur Ros> Whateverthefuck it's called, I can never remember any of their album names except for Takk
Wolf Parade> At Mount Zoomer
Secret Machines> self titled
Man Man> Rabbit Habbits
M83> Saturdays=Youth
Minus the Bear> They Make Beer Commercials Like This
Minus the Bear> Acoustics
The Presets> Apocolypso
Radiohead> In Rainbows
Slow Runner> Mermaids
Vampire Weekend> self titled
TV on the Radio> Dear Science
Metronomy> Nights Out
Margot and the Nuclear so & so's> Animal! (and the alternate version of the album) Not Animal!
Justice> Cross
Black Kids> Partie Traumatic
Bloc Party> Intimacy
The New Pornographers> Live from SoHo (iTunes Exclusive)
Black Moth Super Rainbow> Drippers
Tobacco> Fucked up Friends
Animal Collective> Water Curses
CSS> Donkey
Oxford Collapse> Bits

v Big Trouble

Thursday, January 1, 2009


With the arrival of the new year I've been thinking about what artists have been quiet in 2008 and who I'm waiting to hear from. One I am especially curious about is Daft Punk, who have not produced a normal studio album since Human after all in 2005. The release of Daft Punk's first live album, Alive 2007 , was very satisfying but it's not enough. Alive 2007 simply made me crave more original tracks and gave me false hope that a new studio album was imminent. Sort of in the same genre, electronic/dance, I'm also looking forward to some new material from LCD Soundsystem who have been strangely quiet since the release of Sound of Silver. The only news from them is a new single, not even on iTunes and an instrumental from 2006 that they recently made available in the iTunes US store called 45:33. It's a very long song with many movements that was commissioned by Nike; I recommend it to any hardcore fan of theirs. Lastly, I'm wondering what the White Stripes are doing; nothing from them since 2007 album Icky Thump. Of course I'm waiting for lots of new albums but these three artist have been TOO quiet.

Well hopefully 2009 will be a good year for music. I wish you and yours a happy new year.