Friday, October 30, 2009

Sean, Madonna, and Me

I'm probably not a true Sonic Youth fan, and I'm OK with that. I'm a casual fan I suppose.

Well, I was a casual fan.

I just listened to 2009's The Eternal and it makes me wonder what I ever saw in them. In fact, did I really know who they were, or did I just associate them with Nirvana and Mudhoney and assume that I was a fan? Do you remember the 90's? Were you alive in the 80's? Did we really listen to this shit?

I should like Sonic Youth, I suppose. There is a lot to admire about them. I understand why they have so many insanely raging fans. They pioneered Alternative Music as we have come to know it. That's probably hard to believe, especially when taking a listen to any one of their tracks. Try "Thunderclap for Bobby Pyn." This is probably the best track on the album, so it might leave you wondering just what I'm bitching about.

Download Sonic Youth - Thunderclap for Bobby Pyn

But honestly, when you find a way to start a truly punk band - in the punk ethos, rather than the punk sound - in the early 80's and move it progressively forward but remain threateningly indie, and experiment with the guitar without becoming a rock band... It seems to me that this is how you create that crazy, confusing genre called Alternative.

And the members of Sonic Youth are musicians I should look up to and respect. So I will give them cred. I'm just not digging this sound. I don't get why anyone would accept this from a band for almost 30 full years.

Here's what I'm bitching about:

Download Sonic Youth - Leaky Lifeboat

So there you have it. My review of Sonic Youth's eightieth album in as many years is... What the hell is this all about anyway?

Thank you, don't forget to tip your waiters.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Get It Confused

Rap music is the only vital form of music introduced since punk rock.
- Kurt Cobain

I am sitting in the car with The Little One. She's driving for a change and I am playing with my iPhone. It started with her and I trying to remember the title of a particular song we heard at the Brand New concert.

After the song Archers, the band paused to reset, and Vinnie began playing a riff that we all recognized. It was just a tease though, as they never played more than that riff.

The next day I was trying to figure out what that riff was from. We decided it sounded like Lit and I jumped on Pandora to try to listen to the song. Pandora doesn't let you pick a song to listen to sadly, so then I had to go to the iTunes store to play the preview of My Own Worst Enemy. After getting a second opinion we confirmed that was definitely the riff. Mystery solved.

Then, moments later I was giving props to TLO on recognizing another song with just a few notes. Testing her I reopened Pandora to see how good she was. I would pick a genre in Pandora and let it randomly choose a song to play, then TLO would have to guess the song title.

She is fantastic at 80s and 90s songs. She never missed a Journey song! She falters a little in other catagories, but overall did fantastic. Until I choose the Rap/Hip-Hop category.Jay-Z

I was starting off easy I thought. Dear Mama by Tupac.

She says "Oh boy, this is'!"

I shake my head slowly.

I get it. You are not into Rap and Hip Hop. I get it. I don't love Country, but I know the difference between Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, and Garth Brooks!

Even if you don't listen to rap music, you need to know the difference between Jay-Z, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls. Period. End of Story.

This post is for The Little One.

Tupac Amaru Shakur (or 2Pac or simply Pac) is my favorite. A poet. He could weave a tale into a song. His distinctive voice, lyrical style, and untimely death made him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. West Coast Rap is defined by 2Pac. The East Coast versus West Coast rap fued probably gets its start with Tupac claiming that Biggie Smalls and Puffy Combs facilitated him getting robbed and shot five times.

Tupac released 5 albums while alive and another 6 released after his death.

Download Tupac - Loyal To The Game (DJ Quik Remix)

Christopher George Latore Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G. or simply Biggie) is often believed to have brought East Coast Rap to the masses. Signed by Sean "Puffy" Combs and then released Ready to Die which went Platinum 4 times and puts Brooklyn back in the the rap spotlight.

His unmatched style and ability to make multi-syllabic rhymes sound smooth and easy make him a hit in the rap scene.

Life After Death goes to number one after Biggie is shot outside an award show. Many believed this shooting was in retaliation to the shooting of Tupac in Las Vegas. Either way, another rap legend ends up dead.

Download The Notorious B.I.G. - Suicidal Thoughts

Shawn Corey Carter (or more commonly known by the stage name Jay-Z) is a Grammy award winning artist and a business entrepreneur that made his way from the Marcy Projects in New York very much on the backs of the success from Biggie and Tupac.

Jay-Z has released 11 albums and has appeared on countless other albums as a collaborator. He owns the New Jersey Nets and is the current holder for the record of most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200.

His style is diverse, able to rap fast or slow and always making it look easy.

Download Jay-Z - Run This Town

These three legendary artists are very different, yet form the backbone and voice for rap and hip-hop for much of the 90's and even up to current day. Although there are many other amzing rap acts that you should know about, these three artists you must know... and know well.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What's Your Favorite Colour, Baby?

That's right, they are back. They blew you away in the late 80's, because you had no idea a Black guy could kill an axe like that. (You were too young and sheltered to really know about Jimi Hendrix.) They are pioneers for sure, and they have a new album.


What Living Colour provides to heavy metal is good taste. And I don't say that to be conservative. No other metal band can actually produce thoughtful lyrics, a clean delivery, and melt-your-face-off grinding. Other bands are either too lazy, or too over-produced, or too over-paid, or all of the above if those traits are not already synonymous. The Chair in the Doorway is the band's 12th album, by my count. There have been some greatest hits and live collabs mixed in over their 25-year history.

These albums have been hits and misses. The 2009 album is not one of their greatest, but it is something to appreciate and give respect to nonetheless. Buy the record and support these guys. Then let's anticipate a truly monumental new Living Colour record in the next two years.

Have a listen to "Out of My Mind"... And then let's see you actually buy the record. I'm watching you!

Download Living Colour - Out of my Mind

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wanna See It Now

Life ain't nothin but a dream
Realistic as it seems

Built To Spill @ Outside Lands 2009
One of the most well known indie bands is still relatively unknown to many of my friends. It's necessary to get back to the original goal of this blog and to attempt to change that.

Boise is not just college football and potatoes. It's the home of the band Built to Spill.

The band has just released a new album and it's amazing. Although, you could pick up any one of Built To Spill's 7 albums and get your mind melted.

Doug Martsch is the driving creative force of the band. Initially he intended to be the only static member of the band, promising to rotate musicians for each and every album. I always think this is a great idea, but I imagine this hardly ever works out. When you spend so much time touring and traveling in the back of vans and buses, friendships grow strong. Doug's plan didn't work out, but he now records and tours with some amazing talent that have become permanent members of the band.

I've been listening to the latest album, There Is No Enemy on constant rotation. Even while I sleep. It's woken me up in the middle of the night...holding my face amazed with the beautiful layering of guitars and the distinctive voice of Martsch and his amazing lyrics.

I have come up with many different ideas about the meaning of Martsch's songs. I am not going to share them with you. Why? Well let me share a quote from Doug's wife that sums it up:

Built To Spill @ Outside Lands 2009
I once overheard Doug on the phone being interviewed. He sounded almost stand-offish in not “telling” an interviewer the meaning of a song or describing its origin. Doug and I have speculated about this sometimes: meaning (whether intended or not) is not inherent in lyrics or in any art. Listening, looking closely, and responding with one’s feelings, thoughts, and senses transforms. Doug simply does wish to disrupt any meaning someone else has found.

With so much work behind the band, the record is here. Now comes the album’s journey into the world. This venture Built to Spill does not map out. The record is yours to respond to.

[Editor's Note from The Little One: I think that sometimes people get one meaning for a song, but then they hear the next line and that throws them off. That might be what makes fans ask artists what the song was written about. So I am going to ask you now, just be OK with your interpretation of the song. Doug writes so many decent verses that you can take just one piece of the song and let it help you realize or reveal some truth or epiphany in your own life, your own understanding of love, politics, society, friendships, nature...]

Download Built To Spill - Life's A Dream

Amazing track. That guitar work is so layered and stunning.

The thing about Built To Spill is that EVERY album is so DAMN good.

The Little One and I trip out when listening to the discography of Built To Spill. There Is Nothing Wrong With Love, for example is something we would have loved. It's such an epic and perfect album. Yet, it was a decade before I had heard it. What the fuck were we listening to in 1994 that we missed this gem?

Listen to this song off There Is Nothing Wrong With Love and prepare to play the shit out of it for months on end:

Download Built To Spill - Car

I'm glad that I will never miss another Built To Spill album. Seeing them live really solidifies my love for the band. You must listen to BTS and you must catch their live show. They are heavily touring in support of their latest effort. Check the tour dates on their myspace page to see if they are making a stop near you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A little happy stuff to make everyone feel good

So I'm writing this feeling quite under the weather right now. And I would've loved to have posted a song that sort of fits that theme. The Edmonton band Shout Out Out Out Out just released their second album earlier this year, and I heard the track "Bad Choices" while leaving work last night. And loved it. It reminded me of their track "Chicken Soup For The Fuck You" off of their debut Not Saying/Just Saying. Hence the sick stuff reminding me to maybe post that song.

Well, I unfortunately couldn't find the latter, but the former, on their new album Reintegration Time, serves to help expose the band to more people, just as well. It's a beautiful track that reminds me a bit of Holy Fuck's "Lovely Allen" from 2007. Synth heavy and chugging along, you can't help but feel uplifted and afterwards happy by the continual upbeat feel. It's a winner for this year, for sure!

Download Shout Out Out Out Out - Bad Choices

Next up is a track I'm not really sure about. Julian Casablancas - frontman for The Strokes - is set to release his debut album Phrazes For The Young next month. The first single, entitled 11th Dimension, is a catchy, but overall a pretty empty track. The solo careers by so many of these niche rock bands always seems to fall flat. It's not a bad track, but it's overly simplistic while trying to be a bit phony about some purported complexity to the song. Bad synth stabs can't really save this one in the long run. I want to like this track, but am very much on the fence on it.

Download Julian Casablancas - 11th Dimension

Last up is a cover of a track I ran across a few years back, and am not sure what reminded me about it, but it could be due to all the talk I've come across involving Arcade Fire. This is a cover of "No Cars Go" by fellow Canadian Bryce Kushnier, otherwise known as Vitaminsforyou. I'm not sure what it is about this cover I love so much, but it could be that it is done in a very original fashion while still maintaining the original to an extent that doesn't trample all over the original. A great cover, and a rather unknown one to most, at that! Take a listen and see if you also like it.

Download Vitaminsforyou - No Cars Go (Arcade Fire Cover)

That is it for this week. Again, please support these artists! Buying even one song you like sends a strong message that you really do support what they are trying to bring everyone!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Put the needle on the record...

If you checked out my post here, you know that I have been busy ripping vinyl like a mad man. It's not a ton of fun...but one good thing that has come out of it is that I am rediscovering my music collection.

I have DJ'ed in Seattle, Orlando, and Las Vegas. While going through my tracks I think I've found tracks that remind me of each city or specific gigs.

Well it's some angle to share some of this music with you. It's important for me to share this music for a few reasons. With all the amazing electronic music I have procured from the blogs over the last few's important for me to do the same. To give back in a sense.

When I check for the music I am about to rip, I see that a lot of my own great records are nowhere to be found on the interwebs. Some of them must predate I want to get some of this quality music out there for you! Although these tracks are old, I can say confidently that I still think they are relevant and will get your crowds fired up!

Fex - Last Train (Marine Parade)
It's a record I picked up while record shopping after some gigs I had in Orlando. Breaks are King in Florida and this record never goes over that well in the West...but it's hot and I will continue dropping it.

Download Fex - Last Train

Brett Johnson - Somewhere Between Here and ThereBrett Johnson, Deep House Master
This track reminds me of the fantastic Deep House scene in Las Vegas. The underground electronic scene in Vegas is almost exclusively Deep House and can be heard in many of the long running house parties. If you are looking for a place to check out Deep House in Vegas I suggest Soul Kitchen or Sound Bar. I am sure I picked up this gem at the now defunct Liquid 303 in Las Vegas and it got a lot of spins in the also defunct Utopia Patio.

Download Brett Johnson - Somewhere in Between Here and There

Haitras - It Was (Screw Loose Mix)
Seattle's Rave scene is second to none. I've played to raves up there and they know how to party. I am sure I have played this track there, or something that sounds like it. It's dark yet energetic. Just how they like it. This song would totally fit into any electro house set even today. Don't sleep on this one...again.

Download Haitras - It Was (Screw Loose Mix)

Support all of these artists by buying more of their amazing work.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lord lift up these lifeless bones

Tried to brace myself
But you can't brace yourself when the time comes
You just have to roll with the blast

"A certain amount of suffering has to be done internally and just accepted as a normal and universal part of life. A bit o' sadness and anxiety is the price of living. This is a subject I deal with quite often on my radio program. I find myself telling more and more callers that what they are experiencing simply needs to be endured-and that there isn't necessarily a solution or pharmaceutical prescription to eradicate every human emotion and reasonable reaction to life's challenges."

I hope we're all in crash position when we hit

Is there a book that you can reference that helps you to discern or distill situations and scenarios that present themselves to you throughout your life? Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps for you, it's more like a music album that provides your perspective.

For John Darnielle, the singer/songwriter who leads The Mountain Goats, The Bible manages to provide the source by which to put life, death, and memories into context. And he plucked a dozen passages from it to create his latest album, The Life of The World to Come. Each track is given, simply, the name of the passage that inspired it.

Say what you will about the content in The Good Book, however, which other piece of literature has provided the foundation and backbone for endless other works of art, matters of law, references of morality, songs of praise and sorrow, and just really good stories?

Of course, customs and anthropology of the times created passages that lead to confusion when translation to modern life is required. This often leads thinkers to write off the entire works. Much like the writings of one controversial Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I tell you what, though. I have seen much adversity and great challenges in my personal life. And I have hated the way this has eaten away at my insides. One of her books, "Stop Whining, Start Living" was on a discount rack outside Borders and I picked it up recently. I will take my inspiration anywhere I can find it. And maybe, Darnielle's fans who weren't previously interested in The Bible will find a reason to find a their own [insert inspirational-themed book here, such as Chicken Soup for the Art of Happiness and Small Stuff].

The passage I shared at the top comes from the controversial talk radio host but it's true isn't it? We want to hide from pain. We want to experience tragedy in a medicated haze. Matthew 25 shares two of Jesus' Parables, and it appears that Darnielle found comfort in the Parable of the Talents as he dealt with his mother-in-law's death from breast cancer. The song is titled, simply, "Matthew 25:21". What Will You Do With What You Are Given, is the question someone willing to move forward from the tragedy is willing to ask themselves. How Do I Get Closure From The Pain is the question so many call Dr. Laura to ask, and many times, the answer is... You Don't. Sometimes there is no cure for the reality and magnitude for what happened. You can dance with the pain or you can endure and move past it.

"'You have done well, good and trustworthy servant,' replied his master; 'you have been trustworthy in the management of a little, I will put you in charge of much: share your master's joy.'"

It is true that much of this album is more melancholy and downbeat than many of The Mountain Goats' other albums. Track One, in context, is quite an attention-grabber and it's poignant how well Darnielle can grasp the admonitions of idolatry from 1st Samuel to create a metaphor for how in life, we sometimes give ourselves a bit too much credit for our achievements and our own relative greatness.

Not every source of inspiration is easy to nail down. In "1 John 4:16", it would be easy to assign hundreds of meanings to the lyrics contained, but based on the passage, I believe it's again his simple but poignant way of saying, life is going to sling some shit. God loves me, and this gets me through.

Download The Mountain Goats - 1 John 4:16

If you appreciate the more passionate side of the Goats, you may find that Psalms 40:2 satisfies your need to hear him belt out lyrics through clenched teeth in the way only he can do so well. Because that shit that gets slung? Damn, it's still HARD to deal with.

Download The Mountain Goats - Psalms 40:2

The Mountain Goats has an ENORMOUS discography. Get it. From each album to EP you will go on a new journey. And love it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Phoenix....not Arizona

So we have yet more! They seem to be possibly the most remixed guys this year, and it's quite a mixed bag of remixes that have come out. So today has me writing about two more remixes from the Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix album that will most likely win just about every indie award that is out there (with apologies to Animal Collective).

In order to sort of find out where the remixers - in this case Passion Pit's drummer Nate Donmoyer as Shuttle and also by Animal Collective - you would need to hear both parts one and two of the song remixed. In this case? It's "Love Like a Sunset". To keep some space on our own webspace, I've gotten a youtube vid that combines both parts here for you.

Pretty epic, eh? So now imagine how the powers that be in remixers are going to handle this one. What you end up hearing are two vastly different ways to go about it, and that's what I personally love about music. Everyone hears something different in songs, and that difference is also what helps to bring people together. So after hearing the aforementioned original, and after listening to these two remixes, tell us which of the two you prefer! What would you do differently? What elements of the original would you use and leave out? Enjoy!

Download Phoenix - Love Like A Sunset (Shuttle Remix)

Download Phoenix - Love Like A Sunset (Animal Collective Remix)

Monday, October 5, 2009

500 Words of Pleasure and a Few More of Pain

I'm hoping to sell my house and find a new one. The market has made my home a bad investment. It's too bad. I do love this house and its location, but knowing that I can find a better house for a better price makes it the right time.

One of the bummers of thinking about moving again is the giant vinyl collection I have already lugged through two different moves. The thought of doing it again makes me wanna just leave it here for the next owner to deal with!

I am a "bedroom" DJ. I have been for much of my life. I have "gigged" out, but being a DJ doesn't pay my bills, and I don't like alcohol enough to bother playing for an open bar tab anymore. The art of making a mix tape with two turntables isn't something I can give up. Especially with the excitement that Serato brings me. Serato just enables such a creativity that it makes DJing more fun than ever before.

The plan, then, is to digitize as much of this record collection that I can and then to sell my children...I mean my records... before I move.

This plan stresses me out though. For many reasons:

1. It's time consuming.

2. It's like scaling Mount Everest.

...and maybe most importantly:

3. I stress that I am not getting the best quality of my rips from Vinyl to MP3.

I have spent some money on gadgets that promised to make this task easier, to only discover that it either complicates the process or the quality just plain sucks. There are many things to consider in ripping as far as quality. Where do you keep the gain and EQs at? Do you need an archiving needle? Does running it through a particular mixer affect quality?

One issue is that in the current configuration of my studio I have my decks/mixer right on top of some computer equipment. I feel like I can hear some noise on the rips because of it. I am debating on reworking my studio to just make this easier and cleaner to rip vinyl. /sigh

Then there is just the sound of vinyl. The warmth and depth of a needle on a groove comes with its pitfalls and perils. Pops and hissing is inevitable on a piece of vinyl. Especially if it's an older record like the one featured in this post.

I guess I am using you all as guinea pigs. I ripped one of my favorite house records for you to listen to. Do you think the tracks sound good? Good enough to play in a club or for a mix set? Listen to the following tracks and please let me know in the comments?

Download Nathan Drew Larsen - Five Minutes of Pleasure Two Minutes of Pain

Download Nathan Drew Larsen - Mirari

Nathan Drew LarsenThese two tracks are from the label Simple Soul Records. The label might be defunct now. I can't find much info about the label on Google, and the website for the label seems to be down. The artist is Nathan Drew Larsen. He is a DJ and producer from the home of house, Chicago. He has a few AKA's: House of Black Dress; Mise En Place; Emile Coue; Red Shift. Nathan started DJing in the early ‘90s at loft parties in Chicago. Nathan currently records exclusively for Fresh Meat Records, the label he and Mazi, another Chicago house producer, own and operate. Nathan's 10 years of production draws from the traditions of Chicago’s early deep house scene as well as from his regular use of vintage instruments and effects, his focus on improvisation and live performance, and the clear influence of disparate musical forms including psychedelica, motoric, and pop.

A few more things to note.

For one thing, it might not make sense to rip your vinyl copy of Spiller's Groovejet to MP3 if some one has done it for you. You could find that track at It might be a good idea to search the interwebs or for the track you're planning to rip from your collection. You already bought it, so I suppose you can even do this guilt free!

Keep in mind that some of the problems with ripping vinyl can still be found in the MP3s to be harvested from the many music blogs out there. I've downloaded tracks from blogs that actually had a record skip make it into the MP3 copy!

The last thing I want to mention is the use of a post-ripping tool that I've used to do some cleaning up of the audio files. It's a tool I use on all my music that I play through Serato. It's called Platinum Notes. On the software company's website, they say this about the software:

Platinum Notes makes your tracks sound incredibly smooth. Designed by professional DJs and musicians, Platinum Notes improves your files and gives them warmth, perfect volume, and correct pitch. It removes distortion and clipped peaks.

It's used by many "superstar" DJs and bedroom DJs alike. I recommended it for any DJ playing digital media.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lemme eject

I don't think Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young had this much fun making a record or performing on stage. Maybe they did. But they didn't genre-bend like Monsters of Folk, who by the way even has a better name.

Monsters of Folk came to be when members of Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, and She & Him began playing together on tour, participating in jam sessions, and experimenting with different sounds and different personas onstage. And yeah, I am not the first one to compare them to that early 70's folk "supergroup".

As for the different sounds and personas on this self-titled album, which was released September 22 and sold enough records and digital downloads to hit #15 and #7 on Billboard's respective charts... You can hear some classic rock, folk, artsie bullshit, groovy blues, country twang, and oh yeah, folk. In addition, every member contributes on every instrument.

Say genre-bending with me again, and check out track 5, "The Right Place":

Download Monsters of Folk - The Right Place

Wouldn't it be nice to be in the right place? To like where you live, what you do, what you see when you look at you, what you're sayin' when you open your face...

I don't think I will ever get there. What about you?

Anyway, none of their lyrics make much sense for long, and I guess today I am OK with that. "Baby Boomer" does a good job of encapsulating this "I have a stand, I don't have a stand, we all stand for something, none of us agree" sort of attitude.

Do any of us know what the fuck we are doing?

Download Monsters of Folk - Baby Boomer

Buy it on itunes