Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Umm. Should I be embarrassed?

So this is a song that I heard probably only about five years ago, but is quite a bit older than that. It's followed by another song that, well, I have wanted to post for a while, but I have honestly been too lazy to dig through the couple thousand records I have to find it. Records. They're those round things. Made of vinyl. Vary in size. Sort of like dinosaurs. Except dinosaurs aren't made of vinyl. And they're not really round. So scratch the dinosaur comparison.

Anyhow, the first track is by the B52s. Yes. I said the B52s. Go ahead. Judge me. I like this song. It's the track "Whammy Kiss" off of their third studio album Whammy. Believe it or not, the EP they recorded prior to releasing this album (Mesopotamia)was produced by Talking Heads legend David Byrne. So yeah. If you've got issues with them now? You're a big fat stupidhead. And I'm twelve. So there. This is a fun track. One you just kick back and enjoy the absurdity of it, and appreciate the old school sounds of drum machines and synths, you'll be happy. So enjoy.

Download The B52s - Whammy Kiss

Next is that aforementioned piece I have on wax. Now, back in 1987, Vanessa Paradis - who's now in a relationship with Johnny Depp - released this song originally, and made her big. Well, in France, at least. The hard work paid off in the long run, as she would end up working with music luminaries such as Lenny Kravitz. Well, in around 2000, Japanese artist Hanayo covered the song in question - "Joe Le Taxi" - and was the first track off of her album Gift. I have to say, I prefer this version much more. And now it's here for you guys to take some listening pleasure in!

Download Hanayo - Joe Le Taxi

Monday, September 27, 2010

Step back, Devil-Man

A lot of great basic American culture came right up that highway and up that river.
-Robert Shelton

We're not afraid to tell you about other places to discover music. We know you will be back. You love us! 

We are not worried at all that you will check out thesixtyone and fall in love and break our hearts. You would never do that to us. We like that we can have an open relationship where we think it's fine you go and have a "fling" with this other site. They make discovering music a game. We can't do that for you. We want you to have it. After you have had your fun though, you'll come back here. We take care of you. No games here. Just love and music.

"Really? There's love at TheSixtyOne! I can 'heart' songs I like!" you must be saying into your monitor. I'm guessing, because obviously (OBV) I couldn't really hear you.

Alright. That's true. You can heart things at thesixtyone.  Go ahead. Give your heart(s) away. Maybe when you are done you can at least show us you "Like" us.
Quest screen on thesixtyone

TheSixtyOne has quests you can complete to get hearts and reputation.  For example, the Caution - Very Hot! quest involves listening to seven songs on the "hot" tab. Complete it and get 5 reputation and 3 hearts to give away to songs you love.


No...It's not gimmicky. It's cool. I'm just starting to get jealous. Don't mind me...

TheSixtyOne leaves the aesthetic of the site up to what you are listening to at the moment. For the most part this is awesome. The band will post some artsy band pic and this really looks cool. Like the page for the reggae band Easy Star All Stars. Sometimes, though, it seems like someone needs a lesson in web resolutions. For example, the UK band The Whip has awesome music, but a shitty looking profile.

The Whip's music is fantastic though. Check out this Electro-Rock smash "Trash" from the album X Marks Destination.

Download The Whip - Trash

You can even make playlists. Check out my PARTY playlist! I really might use TheSixtyOne as my party music headquarters. I could load up the site on my 46" TV and run the music through my home theater. Imagine how people at the party would love that. If they hear something they like, they just peek at the TV to find out who the band is, and get some info about them. I can even leave out the wireless keyboard and let my guests heart the songs they liked! I think that would be Party 2.0!

(most of my friends are geeks and trust me, this would be a hit!)

Lots of your favorite artists are already on TheSixtyOne. Jonathon Coulton? Check. The up-and-coming-selling-out-shows-everywhere Weepies? Yep. They also have lots of indie and relative unknowns getting lot's of love. Just because they are unknown to the masses doesn't mean that a music savvy person like yourself should stay in the dark. You should know about an artist like Subtxt who creates beautifully textured soundtrack-esque music or an artist like Michael Joy who produces some beautiful mellow Americana.

What's the name of the site about? Well, there is a Highway 61 that runs 1,400 miles from New Orleans, Lousiana to Wyoming, Minnesota. It generally follows the great Mississippi River. The highway has a lot of  history attached to it, but what's more exciting is that it was an important highway to music. It was often dubbed the "Blues Highway" and is mentioned in countless songs. Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it;  Martin Luther King, Jr. would later be murdered at a motel just off Highway 61. Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil at the "crossroads" of Highway 61 and Highway 49. Did someone at TheSixtyOne sell their soul? I think so. Be careful you don't spend too much time there. I don't want anything bad to happen to you.

The highway was also used in the title of Duluth, MN native Bob Dylan's album Highway 61 Revisited.

They love music at TheSixtyOne, so I must endorse them. I use them, and I think you should too. Buy some music, visit and follow OUR blog on facebook or in your favorite RSS reader

Friday, September 24, 2010

Colour Revolt: And Then There Were Two.

Despite the fact that we called Plunder, Beg, and Curse one of the top ten albums of 2008 because it proved that "beards and southern rock are just barely getting started with their comebacks," the album had dismal sales (we were among multiple entities who wrote high praises of the album), and they lost their label, bassist, and drummer.

Woah. Some blow.

Founding members Jesse Coppenbarger and Sean Kirkpatrick eventually found themselves down to two, and tasked themselves with recording some new songs (they created 40 demos) and finding some new mates.

They did just that, and the wonderful product of such trials is documented in 2010's album The Cradle. Though the lyrics throughout the album address the broken communication in a relationship between a man and a woman, we also get to experience the heartache that a band breaking up causes and the ambiguity that follows.

Check out one of the stronger tracks from this album, "Mona Lisa". Musically, lyrically, it's got to rumble you and make you take notice.

Download Colour Revolt - Mona Lisa

Thrice drummer Riley Breckenridge claims that this album is a lock for his top ten of 2010. The Breeders literally chose them to tour with because of an album listen. St Louis' Riverfront Times claims that Colour Revolt is THE exception to the idea that most bands today would never survive in the 80's pre-internet band era.

So what is going on that all the cool people with great taste love these albums, love these shows, and don't buy the records?

You've got to buy the records, guys! We even give you linkety links when we tell you about the music! How do we keep music coming? How do we support the acts we love without buying their music?

Here it is. C'mon now, sweetness.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One of my personal favorites

This is simply a personal favorite song of mine. Believe it or not, it has been over 11 years since Mark Sandman - the lead singer of Morphine - passed away. The music that these guys wrote was sometimes haunting, as the song posted today will be a testament to. Rarely was there a true guitar used in their music, as many of their songs simply featured a 2-string bass guitar played with a slide, various percussion instruments, and a drummer. You would occasionally hear a piano or traditional guitar used, but that was rare.

When I think of Morphine, I think of this song, "Hanging On A Curtain". Many may remember their track "Honey White",off of Yes, but it's many of the other songs that made an impact on how I feel about this band. This song sums them up perfectly, for me. The sad part is that back in July of 1999, these guys were supposed to play at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, opening for now defunct band Soul Coughing. I heard about Sandman passing away while on stage at a festival in Italy. Believe it or not, I somehow found M Doughty's e-mail address, and sent a quick message. The two bands worked together at shows fairly often, and from what I understand, Doughty and Sandman were pretty good friends. I actually received a response back, and man do I wish I had kept that!

Anyhow, I hope you guys enjoy this one, this week.

Download Morphine - Hanging On A Curtain

Monday, September 20, 2010

are you sure something is rotten in the state of Denmark?

Download Veto - You Are A Knife

This is Veto. I am a huge fan.

Download Veto - Digits

That was Veto again. I would post entire albums if I could, but I'll leave it to you to track them down.
Veto was my first Danish band. It was very emotional: At first I felt ashamed and unsure of myself, there was some crying and guilt, but eventually I realized it was brilliant and I needed to do it again as often as possible. Anyway...
I play a little game sometimes to try to find new music. You may know it. I watch a YouTube video of a band or artist I like, then I start clicking on the "related" links to see where I end up. Sometimes it's way down the rabbit hole (think Swedish Black Metal) and sometimes I find music I love. Using Veto as a starting point, I found some Danish music that is pretty impressive, in my humble opinion.
Veto's lead singer, Troels Abrahamsen, has been creating and releasing his own music for a while now. He DJs and works in electronic beats, some of which find their way into Veto's sound. His first solo pseudonym was Supertroels.

All the tracks from the Supertroels album I Know That You Know are available on YouTube, though I'm having serious trouble finding the record for purchase in the US. If anyone can figure that out I'd be ultra happy to hear about it. I really like this stuff.
More recently Troels Abrahamsen is releasing music under his own name. His albums WHT and BLCK are both melancholic and lovely, and the guy's voice and lyrics really impress me. I particularly like how his beats often start chaotically, taking a little time to settle in and let you know where they're headed. I'm hesitant to say it, but I hear some Thom Yorke in there, which is a good thing.

Download Troels Abrahamsen - I Run Over

These were a bit tricky to find for purchase as well, but you can get them here.
Abrahamsen also releases tracks for download on his blog. Check that out here if it tickles your fancy. The blog itself is definitely worth reading, too. He seems like the kind of guy I'd like to have a drink with and chat about music.
Moving outside Veto's direct sphere of influence, I stumbled across Trolle//Siebenhaar. This is a bit of a Danish supergroup, combining the very sexy, sultry voice of Ane Trolle with the writing and production of Pato Siebenhaar. If you're a trip-hop fan you'll probably dig this.

Download Trolle//Siebenhaar - Sweet Dogs

Both members are worth looking into, as they have done some pretty interesting work along the way. For example, Pato's hip-hop-ish cover of an Operation Ivy classic:

I'll stop here before I write your ear off. What did we learn today? You can find good music if you get past all the crap on YouTube, the Danes make good music, and you should really be watching for the next Veto album. They're in the studio now...

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Got A Plan To Take That Woman Down

Do you know what has been the hardest question for me to answer lately?

"What's new with you?" Or... "What have you been up to lately?"

Because... I have no fucking idea.I truly draw a blank on this question.

Lately I feel like I'm fooling myself
Either that or I'm foolin' everyone else
Lately I feel like a piece of my soul
Is hangin' around for everyone to hold

I have far too many people's lives in the palm of my hand, and I don't know who decided to trust me with this. And maybe I was fooling myself by not noticing how frenetic this made everything. Or maybe I was OK with the busy-ness of it all. Or fooling myself by refusing to acknowledge that I was avoiding taking care of my own shit. Fooling everyone else into believing I know what I am talking about?

Meanwhile I think I might be spent. Pardon me, but could you pass me my soul back?

I just got the new (from June) Grace Potter and the Nocturnals album. I am telling you. I may have found my soul.

I am not shitting you.

Her voice crawls into my bloodstream and wakes up the gravelly, sultry woman inside. And you know me, I need the lyrics. Hers are strong, and intelligent, and cutthroat. The way I've had to be with people who've been getting in my way lately. It's like this music is my new ass-kicking posse. The bass line is the quiet enforcer standing in the back in case there's trouble. The rhythm guitar is the loudmouth trash talker. The drums are there to keep everything smooth and quick.

Listen as my posse gathers on Track 3, "Medicine."

Download Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Medicine

This band is made up of Ms. Grace Potter, along with a second woman who plays bass, a three dudes, and a shitload of instruments. They released their first album as a band in 2005 and have toured with The Black Crowes and the Dave Matthews Band.  The band even covered Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" for the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland. So there you go Mookie, now you will never be able to get her last name right!

Technically, this eponymous album is the band's fourth studio recording. If you have managed to miss hearing one of their songs then you have got to get on board, my friend. This is an album you cannot miss. This is a live performance you should absolutely aim to experience.

I read a show review that detailed how hard this band tried to make the crowd leave on their knees.  For nearly two hours this powerhouse awed the crowd and Miss Potter displayed her prowess on vocals, a B3 organ, a vintage Flying V3 guitar, and a tambourine.

A few tracks on Grace Potter and the Nocturnals slow it down a bit, including "Fooling Myself", the song I quoted earlier on for you.  Listen here for a small taste of the range this band, and this album, demonstrates. It's like these two tracks are my new anthems.

 And then buy the album.  Buy it here from Amazon.

Download Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Fooling Myself

You can download the mp3 version on Amazon, or you can buy the CD, the vinyl, the CD from another band, some books, a sledgehammer, gardening shears, a bedroom furniture set... Seriously.  Use our link and browse the Ammy for whatever tickles you lately.  In fact... 

Monday, September 13, 2010

The highest point reached by a celestial or other object

The tilt of the tape head in the direction perpendicular to the tape travel.Sometimes what drives you is fear.

A Swarm of the Sun
I really wanted to skip my post today. I had a long week, followed by a bender of a weekend. I kept playing all the new tunes I had recently received, but nothing was worth mentioning. There were even some unfinished posts I thought about finishing, but the music that I once thought was fresh enough to write about seemed stale today. I read about the Taylor/Kanye performances at the VMA's so I figured I better watch those performances.Those would surely give me something to write about! Sadly, although I'd love to rehash the discussion about these two, BOTH their performances put me to sleep.

Nothing in the inbox was speaking to me. My last chance was in the mailbox! I found two CD sized envelopes and quickly open the one that has the international postage on it! Sweden?

I rip it open and see it's a CD by a group called A Swarm of the Sun. I think I remember previewing this online, and I remember it was really good. I hope I'm not wrong...I need to get this post done!

I throw the CD in and begin listening while reading the press release. A Swarm of the Sun is from Sweden (right...I got that...) and the core group is Erik Nilsson and Jakob Berglund who are joined by a number of musical collaborators.

It's right around now that I get to track two in the CD and I get that tingle...  Oh yeah...this has fucking got everything. It's light and dark. Strong yet fragile. It's got an Industrial sound that simmers until boiling over in a searing explosion of guitar and distortion. It's like the song you might hear in a movie where the protagonist realizes the Zombie Armageddon is upon him. He reloads his shotgun and wipes the blood off his brow while this song plays in the background. The title is called "This One Has No Heart" and I suggest you crank the volume all the way up!

Download A Swarm of the Sun - This One Has No Heart

[continues reading press release]

The full-length debut is called Zenith, it was released August 30th of this year. The band documented the making of the album through a series of pictures on their facebook page. If you like Nine Inch Nails, and need something to fill the hole Trent left in your heart when he decided to put NIN on the shelf, then click the Amazon link below.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

raise the Rufus!

Click image to open full size
I am a bad Rufus Wainwright fan. I have only one album, Poses, from his entire catalog. I've heard interviews with him and seen random performance videos, but never followed up on any of his work. Regardless, I think he's one of the most insanely talented and interesing musicans around. So when I saw he would be doing a one-time engagement with the Oregon Symphony right here in Portland, I immediately grabbed tickets.

Yeah, I know this was 7 years ago. It's still awesome.

The show was at the Arlene Schnitzer Music Hall (the Schnitz, to locals), a venerable Portland classic. It's a true concert hall built for opera performances, which made it the perfect venue for this event. It was particularly appropriate since part of the performance came from Wainwright's opera, Prima Donna.
Now I'm no huge opera fan; not because I hate it, but because I never really took the time to expose myself to the art form. While I appreciate the talent it takes to sing (unamplified!) the parts, I've never really liked the operatic singing style. I just want to get that out of the way early so a) you don't expect any true level of knowledge in what you're reading here, and b) nobody confuses this with a blog from the New York Times' opera critic and thinks he/she has suffered a traumatic head injury.
The first part of the show focused on pieces from Prima Donna. This happened to be the first time any of the opera was performed for a US audience, so it felt pretty special to be there. After a brief introduction by Rufus, the music began. I can't say with any authority what it sounded like (a bed of Rachmaninoff wrapped in a swirling haze of Berlioz, leaving just the slightest aftertaste of Chopin...whatever) so I'll just say that it was compelling and lovely. Two amazing sopranos performed four short acts that, though a little slow to an opera novice, were beautiful. I would sit through the whole opera and enjoy it, I think. I just wish I knew French so I could have stopped focusing on the translation screen.


The rest of the show was Rufus performing his own works, classical works, and various songs including some Judy Garland numbers. His voice was dead-on the entire evening and he was fun to watch. The Garland numbers in particular were boisterous and it was obvious he loved singing them. You can see him perform these tunes on the recently released DVD from a live show called Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! does Judy! Judy! Judy! I'll be picking that up very soon.

The last few numbers included his excellent cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (accompanied by the vocals of Janis Kelly, who had performed pieces of the opera earlier, and local celebrity Storm Large) and a heartrending version of a McGarrigle Sisters song, "Kitty Come Home." Wainwright's mother, Kate McGarrigle, passed away this January so it was particularly touching to hear him sing a song written for and about her.
I wish this were a touring show so I could tell you to go see it at all costs. The best I can do is tell you it was incredible and recommend seeing Rufus Wainwright live when you can. He truly is one of the best performers around.

Friday, September 10, 2010

All these people understand is a gun in their face or...

Do you remember Ludo?  He was the gentle beast in Labyrinth that helped Sarah through the maze.

He's the inspiration for the name of a band that hails from the Midwest.  From their quirky songwriting I totally get that they are a bit into magic, mischief, mystery and fantasy, but it seems like they would identify more with someone more outgoing one way or another: Didymus or Jareth perhaps.  Nevertheless, that's what they decided to call themselves once they recorded their first album and played their first gig as a full band in 2003.  Let's just call it a tribute to fantasy, as in "We love Ludo, and we want you to love us too."

In 2005 they released a rock opera EP called Broken Bride.  Originally, they had recorded a song called "Broken Bride, Part 1" and it eventually became the impetus to put together the EP and call it a rock opera. Honestly, the majority of the songs on all of their albums sound like they are about to instigate a rock opera of their own so I'm not sure what the idea was there...

But check this out... the UNLV Marching Band performed one of the tracks from that EP as part of an exhibition!

This week, Ludo released their third full-length album, called Prepare For The Preparations.  It's all over the place.  Look, some of their lyrics are witty.  Their music is clean.  But why do they get to get away with putting out a non-cohesive album and still people love them?  When I can't get away with being a all-over-the-place good girl and get what I want?  Life is not fair.

The guys in Ludo love to put on cool parties too.  HalLUDOween  and LUDO Shop of Horrors at the Blue Note in Columbia (Missouri).  A Very LUDO Christmas at the Pageant in St. Louis.  They've done mustache shows too.  I like to be random and I want to throw theme parties, and no one thinks it's cute.  Frankly I am wondering if it's time to hang it all up because I just don't get it.  Every song on each of their albums are born of a random, imaginative thought and they hit you out of nowhere.  Like me! Sheesh.  So what do you see in them that you don't see in me??  I don't like to follow an agenda.  They don't follow one either!  I found proof... Here's the real explanation for Broken Bride:

Basically it is a concept album but ours is only five songs long. We didn't originally set out to do it but Andrew Volpe, our main songwriter, wrote the first song "Broken Bride" which is about a man who goes back in time to save his wife who died in a car accident but ends up in the Jurassic period and all this stuff happens. From there it kind of spiraled out of control. Andrew wanted to keep the story going so we finished it up. We call it a rock opera, but we use that term loosely. A musical theater group in Chicago actually acted out the music which is kind of odd.

Let me try to spell out what's going on in Preparations.  We go from zombies (again) to robots to overbearing drunk dudes; we get two nearly sappy love songs in a row which make you wonder what the punch line was supposed to be, a graveyard, and then the slow dance at a 1950's soc hop.  Yes.  We slow it down and conjure Buddy Holly after conjuring Tim Burton. By then, you may be ready to just accept the final tracks on the album for what they are: fun.  And clean.

Like me!

The release from this album is track 3 - "Whipped Cream."  It's cute.  Where exactly do these self-aware drunks they're singing about hang out?  They sound like fun.

Download Ludo - Whipped Cream

As for those love songs I referred to, I'm afraid to like them because they might be making fun of my need to hear lines like "But the best story that I could ever tell is the one where I am growing old with you" or "I've been hypnotized by all you are". So I have to get through the album to the other side of 1950 and my next-favorite song is "All The Stars In Texas." Fun and clean, as I said.

Download Ludo - All The Stars In Texas

The theme is not far off from one of my favorite Saves The Day songs, "Do You Know What I Love The Most?" Maybe I picked up on that real quick, and that's why.

I know I know - they sound nothing like Saves The Day.  But I am a sucker for the unobvious love songs.  You already know that.

Why don't you join in the party and check out Ludo live?  They tour like it's going out of style.  They're on tour NOW and there's no way you can't find them... Or hit the open road, see some sights, and catch their show at the Pageant on October 17.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm wandering! (Well, now I'm home.)

So I'm writing this week's post as I'm finishing up my vacation. I've been through Iceland and England, and now am spending my last of two days in Ireland. So the song I have in mind today is that of the man in black - Johnny Cash. And hell, since I'm in Ireland? It makes sense that the group Cash worked with on this song is U2. It was released on U2's Zooropa, and is one hell of a track! Check it out!

Download Johnny Cash and U2 - The Wanderer

EDIT: Well, since I was on the road, I was unable to actually upload the music files, so I was at a loss for getting you all a post. Now, however, I'm home. And what better way to describe being home than the with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros track "Home"? Included is also a remix I received via email from Brooklyn based Party Supplies of "Home".

Download Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Home

Download Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Home (Party Supplies remix)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Give us your dreamers, your harlots, and your sins

Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas
We sell crutches in Las Vegas. In all shapes in sizes. We have one for every type of person, ready for emergency use. Even if you're healthy and able, we'd like to provide you one in case you stumble and fall.

What ever it is that will make you feel better, it's here. It's temporary and fleeting, but for a short time you will feel whole again. Renewed and alive. In the end it will cripple you completely.

Sex? Food? Drugs? Got a gamblers spirit? Need a companion, or two? Looking for a savior? It's all here.

I have lived here since I was 3 years old. It's home. Living here will build some callouses in your armpit. I've grabbed a free crutch or two. I've window shopped for crutches, needing to understand the drive of this person or that. I've bought crutches in time of need, and stolen them in times of great happiness. Still, I am stronger for all of this. My two feet ARE in fact capable of holding myself up.


Sometimes...sometimes you just wanna give your feet a rest.

It's a city that will eat you alive. You'll never enjoy that more than here.

Sunsets and neon lights
Call girls and neon lights
Black jack and lady luck
Cocaine and lady luck
You call upon her on holy knees tonight

I am always to excited to see a local band make it big. The Killers are a certified success, with 15 million records sold worldwide, but in my heart...I just wasn't sure what to think. The songs I loved by The Killers were scattered across their 4 studio albums, but was I ready to stand by this band of ours? We've had bands break out and up from this neon jungle before. Panic At The Disco! was the other BIG band that blasted out of the Vegas Valley. Sure, I loved much of "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out", but still something was missing. Where is the song that sums up what it's like to live here in my City of Sin?

Ends up, it wasn't a band, but Killers frontman Brandon Flowers gone solo that finally provides the link and connection for me. This connection came via his brilliant solo album called Flamingo, set to be released September 14th, 2010.

The opening sounds of tree crickets at night, that start the song and album off, to the the final words of "the house always wins" are bookends to the most perfect song about Las Vegas I have ever heard. Brandon Flowers would know. He is from Vegas, as you might know. Brandon was born in Henderson, NV (very close to Las Vegas) and lived here until he was 8, when his family moved to Utah. After his junior year of high school, he returned to Las Vegas to live with his aunt. The rest is history, so to speak. He went on to form the Vegas-based band The Killers and live out a dream of being a musician and songwriter.

The song title, "Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas," is a greeting known to locals and tourists alike. The words emblazon the sign you see at the top of this post. The sign that greets you as you enter the Las Vegas Blvd., THE Strip, from the South end of town.  It doesn't stop there, as I mentioned earlier. Those tree crickets at the beginning of the song? I can step outside on to my patio, right now,  and hear those same sounds. They are the sounds of my home for the last 30 years. The pull already of this song has me in a tight orbit.  Then the lyrics. The lyrics are so perfectly written. I can see visions of my own life, in this town, flash in front of my minds eye. The feelings and smells. The neon framing my misadventures and misfortune as well as the joy and love.

Download Brandon Flowers - Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas

Cameras on the ceiling tile
no place for you to hide
One-Oh-Seven and you're looking for shade
That no palm tree can provide
But there's a little girl you remember back in Tennessee
You have this recurring dream
Where you see her playing hide and seek
With a woman who used to know you very well

It's not the the kind of song the Las Vegas Tourist Bureau would ever want to use for a commercial, but it is the song that most accurately paints the picture of this town. From the eyes of someone who has stayed a little too long.

Las Vegas makes you wonder sometimes. Where does your strength come from. Is it me standing, or is there a crutch under my arms. You wonder if the hot blonde you love is just a crutch. We all need a ninja-killing lover to save us from ourselves, don't we? Don't we?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

sweet street sweepers seldom sweep swept streets

Tom Morello and Boots Riley (Street Sweeper Social Club)
Ok, kilter, you can do it. You can write this review without referring to Tom Morello's previous, well-known project combining rap and rock. Just pretend that "anger toward the device" band never existed. Take a deep breath, and let's go.

You know Tom Morello. He moonlights as The Nightwatchman and was the guitar player in Audioslave, as well as, um, other projects. He writes catchy, riffy guitar lines and uses the guitar as a musical weapon as much as an instrument. You may also know Boots Riley, sociopolitical activist and co-founder of The Coup, one of the best underground acts of the 2000s. What do you get when the two join forces? They're called Street Sweeper Social Club (hereafter referred to as SSSC), and they recently released The Ghetto Blaster EP.
The album is explosive and energetic, layering politically-charged rap over chunky rock riffs. It's like nothing you've ever heard...uh...before...
Screw it.

SSSC is similar to Rage Against The Machine in theory and concept. It has moments that almost sound too familiar to the Rage fan in me (I mean that in the best possible way, of course). That's where the comparisons stop, though. Riley has a decidedly different flow than Zack de la Rocha, and he knows how to mix politics with a party. SSSC also has more moments that truly resemble, what do the kids call it, hippity-hop? That's not to say the driving guitar and bass lines aren't there, but there seems to be a little more texture here than what we've heard before. Add in some well-chosen covers (LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out and M.I.A.'s Paper Planes) and you've got a pretty interesting EP. You can listen to the covers on your own; check out the opening track, "Ghetto Blaster," for an idea what SSSC's sound is like.

Download Street Sweeper Social Club - Ghetto Blaster

Oh, ok, here's a cover for you. Don't say I never did anything nice.

Download Street Sweeper Social Club - Mama Said Knock You Out

The (International) Noise Conspiracy (c) Elin Berge 2008
A little research shows that this band intends to be more about the experience of a live show, bringing people together to dance their Communist socks off. I'll be watching for a chance to see them. Expect a review when that goes down.
Speaking of hip Communist bands, I'm going to sneak in some (International) Noise Conspiracy here. Just because I love them.

Download The (International) Noise Conspiracy - Smash It Up

Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't Fee Fo De Way You Arrr, De Way You Be

This is me.  Wwww-HUH?
You know that feeling you get when you are watching a non-English speaking person completely emulate the voice and mannerisms of a famous American? You don't know what to do with your response. If you closed your eyes, you wouldn't know the difference. But you already know that when speaking, this person has a thick, thick accent. That means you pick up subtle hints of Engrish between some of his words.

Now you know what I am experiencing at this very moment as I listen to the Portuguese band, Uni_Form. I am utterly confused. You see, Mookie and I have been discussing buying tickets to an upcoming Interpol show. Since there is music playing 24/7 at Mookie's house, even when we sleep, I assumed what I had been hearing was the new Interpol album. If they have a new album. I just assumed. Sometimes I just go with it. I rarely go check his computer to see what we're listening to.

But today, I decided to sit myself down at Mook's workstation and try to eat the scraps of some leftover Thai food while I check out what he has that's new, and write my post for this week. Based on a quick click of a random track, I thought this Mirrors album sounded like a winner.
It took me until Track 2 to drop my mouth and say... What??!! I swear, I checked from screen to screen to verify this band I was researching was the same as the band playing in iTunes and NOT Interpol. Wow. THAT'S what I thought was Interpol? They are from PORTUGAL! They are singing in English! They sound EXACTLY like Interpol!

I had to take another moment.
I don't like bands that sound exactly like other bands.
I do like discovering new, international bands.
I don't know what to do.

But Interpol... I couldn't even name you a band member. I like Interpol because they have that dark, dramatic sound that you can play while doing... well, anything dark and dramatic. So... Does it matter who is playing it? Am I offending Interpol? Shit. Look, what do I know?
I found some of their videos and I am telling you, if you watch them perform you will totally hear and see that accent.

I'm left once again having no idea what to do with myself. I hope Mookie gets home soon.
In the meantime I can't believe we thought this was Interpol. Now do with it what you will.

Download Uni_Form - Shadows

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lenny, you are seriously missed. Especially now.

As a warning, this post is going to contain language that many readers will find obscene.

That being said, it seems my rant last week on those that harbor ill will towards words - be they on the right or left - touched a nerve with some. Others felt strongly on the opposite end, also. It's a funny thing, language. It brings out the best and worst in people, but only if they allow it to hold control over them. It's why I've always felt strongly about the notion of free speech. The idea of "free speech" is a novelty. It's a warm fuzzy directed towards the masses to make them feel as though they actually have the right to say what they like. Funny, though, that many seem to find out there are consequences to what they say. Many times, it is the racists out there that sling words around that are in the context of an insult, then scream that their first amendment rights are being infringed upon. That's if those morons can spell a word like infringement.

You see, I am a grown man. I have the ability to think clearly and understand what others mean when they use the words they have chosen. When I wrote the term "paddywagon", it is used in the context of pointing out the moral ignorance of another. And this is why I am posting what I am posting this week. What you guys are going to hear just simply takes such a complex subject, and boils it down to about a minute and a half of sheer brilliance. So here is Lenny Bruce's bit, "Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight?"

Download Lenny Bruce - Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight?

Now, you'll notice I didn't use that lame euphemism we all know as "the N-word". Why? Because it's leading us down just an awful road. Let's say that you (the reader) and your mate have a young child. Every so often, you speak of giving the child candy. Eventually, the child will associate the word with what you will give him - candy. You figure out that the child is wise to this, so you change up the approach. You spell out the word. Unfortunately, the child will soon also figure this out. It's no different than the lazy avoidance of a word that draws strong feelings. To paraphrase the comedian and '60's civil rights activist Dick Gregory? What's to stop the Jewish community from telling all people that instead of, say, "concentration camp", any and all non-Jews must say "the C-word"? We're already seeing this, as the popular movement is to use the simplified "R-word" instead of "retard".

Now, let's look at the following sentence:

Mary's growth was retarded by her mother's smoking habit while she was in the womb.

Is that offensive to you all? No? Do you know why? Because you understand the context in which it is used. When I tell stories of my time down south, I certainly will curb my language at points. It's self-censoring, which we all do. However, I will openly talk about how I would hear just openly blatant racism and how openly so many would toss the word "nigger" around with such vitriol. It's disgusting. So let's use two sentences now to understand, again, the power of the word. Let's say I overhear someone say the following, and I am telling you about it later:

"That is one lazy nigger."

Inappropriate, correct? I agree! Say now that we ban the word and use the fluffed up politically correct euphemism, instead.

"That is one lazy n-word."

If you work to ban the first, what is eventually going to happen will happen in two parts. First? The original word will eventually be wiped from the books, thus robbing us from letting people understand the hate that went on. An unfortunate part of our culture. One we should teach others to not embrace, but work to finish off through tolerance. Second? Once that word is all but gone? You will simply see the power shift towards the euphemism that we created to make nice, and it will elicit the same nastiness. You people that simply want to run from the problem? Are the problem. I say these things to elicit the emotion of anger. Not of the word, but of the blatant stupidity of how the words are used with such hate and stupidity. Instead, most now can't tell the difference.

Another great bit from Bruce is called "Tits and Ass". It sort of follows the same lazy, half-assed approach. Take a listen.

Download Lenny Bruce - Tits and Ass

Now, how is this any different than our half-assed "solution" to curing the ills of racism? I will tell you. It's NOT. If you simply change the language? Well, it sounds quite nice, but guess what? You've now offended a different crowd, altogether. It doesn't matter if it's a "profanity" or a "slur". As an aside, the word "paddywagon" has two different backgrounds. One being that the cops in England were always tossing the Irish in the back of their buggies, hence the term. It certainly isn't something to be proud of. However, with so many Irish immigrants in the Boston and New York areas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, you saw many get work as officers. Many drove the same wagons. It was a term to describe those wagons, which many times were driven by? The Irish. It offends me that those that feign offense are many times too lazy to do an adequate amount of research, and instead find a pet cause to believe in.

So what do I find offensive? Look no further than our capitol. Representative Kevin Brady, from the wonderful state of Texas, when justifying his vote against a bill that would have appropriated extended healthcare benefits to the 9/11 first responders, said the following:

"They went there to save survivors, not to raise taxes."

Here's the video:

Now, which one do you find more offensive? The description of a story about the lunacy of politically correctness gone out of control? Or a man on our dime refusing to help people that gave of themselves selflessly on 9/11 because of his need to protect off shore interests? I think the smart choice is the latter. I was absolutely fuming when I heard that remark. As should most anyone with any semblance of a soul. And to bring yet another Lenny Bruce moment up, check his idea of what words he found offensive. Now remember, this is the late 1950's. The political climate in terms of civil rights was much different and much more heated. Sheer brilliance.

That being said, I offer zero apologies for the language I use unless I directly used it to target a person. In this case? I didn't. I simply refuse to bow to the powers that think they be and dumb down our language the way Orwell warned us we would, all because a handful of people are just too stupid to think for themselves and think of the bigger picture.

And here's one last piece of stand-up. It's off of David Cross' latest album Bigger and Blackerer, and I have to include that I attended this show, and knew something this awful was coming, but I laughed my ass off. This is so horribly wrong, but so very funny how he satirizes the whole debate on race.