Monday, August 30, 2010

Mookie Meets His Nemesis

The Little One and I have begun frequenting a particular bar once a week to enjoy happy hour drinks and food specials. We have become fast friends with the bartender there, he pours heavy and provides some great conversations.

One of the down sides of this particular bar is that there is no jukebox. Like most bars, they are moving away from the jukebox to Satellite Radio. Mostly because allowing your drunk customers to have control over what the bar is forced to listen to is problematic. Imagine the drunk guy or girl who just broke up with their significant other? The entire bar will want to slit their collective wrists from having to listen to $5 worth of sad breakup songs. I have been known to throw $5 in and play all my favorite post-hardcore bands. Usually after only the second song the "regulars" tend to grumble. After 4 songs they usually turn the volume down!

Even with satellite radio, patrons will grumble. When the bartender overheard me complaining about Chris Cornell though, it nearly started a war!

If you have been reading my posts on this blog, you know I can't stand ANY incarnation of a band that includes Chris Cornell. I've tried. I was even hopeful about that abortion of an album, "Scream", Chris did with Timbaland. The single was good...but the rest of the album was just a disjointed mess. I try to avoid sharing my opinions on Cornell in public. The fans of Soundgarden or Audioslave are many, and I am but one. Unfortunately, the alcohol had loosened my lips, and I blurted out to the bartender "Chris Cornell is a talentless twat!"

The bartender erupts in disbelief. "Soundgarden! Audioslave!" he exclaims. "All garbage," I respond. He walks around the bar to tell his patrons of what has just been uttered from the other corner of the bar.
Or something like that. I was drunk.

I watch as he walks around the bar. I watch the people squint their faces to listen to what the bar-keep is ranting on about. Then I see their faces change. Surprise at first. Then to contempt as they scan the bar to see who uttered such blasphemy.Then they lock eyes with me. Then I see hate.

I held my head high, affirmed in my belief.

Then the crowd seems to surround me. They begin to test me..to figure out who they are dealing with. They ask me about Mother Love Bone. Temple Of the Dog. Singles. Seattle.
"Do you like Pearl Jam?" they ask.
"Yes!" I reply.
"Do you like Pantera?" they ask.
"Meh," I respond.
"Alice In Chains?" they ask, with their breath held.
"No," I mutter. Drunk or not, I should have never allowed them to lead me into this trap.

They all turn on me, with blood in their eyes. I think secretly they all know Cornell is a hack...but their beloved Layne Staley? The juggernaut that is Alice In Chains? This will NOT pass! They begin to joke and laugh me off. They taunt me and throw insults. Until, that is, the drunk burn out Granger speaks up.

Granger is considered by the regulars of the bar as THE music guru. He is usually heavily sedated by grain alcohol, and tonight is no exception. Granger clears his throat. "I agree," he says to me. Granger continues, "There are better bands. Tool for example." I'm not even sure exactly what he means, but the bar is hushed.

"Tool is amazing. League of their own," I spit out.

The bar retreats, grumbling and disappointed, back to their stools. Unsure where to go from here. Their wise Granger has spoken, and HE approves of the visitor from another land.

I have only one friend left in the building, and if I don't befriend him and strengthen this new found friendship, then I'll probably get shanked on the way out to my car.

The Black Angels
Granger and I parry. Nothing too aggressive. We throw out names of bands and artists. The other agrees when a good choice is named, and sends back a few more names the other way. We finally get to the final draw. "Thrice. Amazing Post-Hardcore band. Do you know them?" I ask the wise but wobbly Granger.
"Thrice? No. I'll check into them. Have you heard of The Black Angels? Neo-psychedelia. Post-Punk," he says. He knows now that we are finished. You see it in his face. It's a draw. We'll continue another day perhaps. But not today. He is my nemesis...and I am his.

He retreats into the night and I pay my bill and do the same. Immediately when I get home I research The Black Angels. I buy the albums, create a playlist, and meet my pillow in an embrace.

Click image to see full size
The next day I put The Black Angels on the iPhone and head out into to my day. The first album I really get into is the self-titled one released in 2005. It's getting me really exicted! It's like Jim Morrison meet the Beatles in a dark LCD fueled dream. The band has toured with Wolfmother, The Black Keys, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to name a few. Those three bands in particular though, do share acoustic similarities with The Black Angels. Dark, Bluesy, effect heavy guitars. Let's listen to track one off this album. A cut called Black Grease.


Download The Black Angels - Black Grease

Ah yes. Granger was right! That's good stuff!

There is two other albums by the Black Angels you can and should pick up right now. "Directions To See A Ghost" and the indie-acclaimed, internationally praised "Passover".

I checked out The Black Angels official site and discover they have a new album coming out September 14th on Blue Horizon Records. I suggest the pre-order. I've already paid for mine. Has Granger? I doubt it.

I bet he hasn't even heard the new song Bad Vibrations. Guess who did? That's right...Us.


Download The Black Angels - Bad Vibrations

Sunday, August 29, 2010

mashups to the Max

A good mashup can be a window into a new world. It can expose you to new music and new genres of music. For example, I'm no big Jay-Z fan, but hearing DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album made me feel like one. Lately I've been enamored with Max Tannone and his brilliant mixes. I want you to be enamored too.
note: an interview with Mr. Tannone was posted on a really excellent blog not too long ago. I'm just compelled to add some more specific reviews here. Because you really need to listen to these cuts.
My first experience with Tannone's work was his Jaydiohead project. This combines Jay-Z's The Black Album with Radiohead's music. It gives the lyrics a nice creepy feel and a ton of atmosphere. Sure, Danger Mouse kinda beat him to the punch (with the aforementioned Grey Album) but this takes it in a whole new direction.


Download Jaydiohead - Dirt Off Your Android

Doublecheck Your Head
After hearing this I needed to know if there was more. There is. So much more.
Doublecheck Your Head is a mashup of the Beastie Boys' lyrical stylings over the music of...wait for it...the Beastie Boys. As it turns out, their sweet instrumental album, The In Sounds From Way Out, is the perfect backdrop for their raps. It seems so simple, but I never would have thought of it. I'm glad someone did.


Download Beastie Boys - 3's What'cha Want

By the way, if you don't own The In Sounds... already, go get it now. It has some of the most delicious grooves since the chocolate record was invented. Wait, do they really make chocolate records? Holy crap, they do! I may have just found material for my next review.
Finally, and at the top of my current list, is Mos Dub. Mos Def's smooth raps work perfectly over Dub Reggae cuts; perfectly enough that I can overcome my mild dislike for reggae and enjoy the hell out of this album. Please don't write to reprimand me for that reggae comment. I already know it makes me a bad person. Just listen to this track and enjoy it instead.


Download Mos Dub - Johnny Too Beef

These albums are all available for free download online. Click the links below to get them. While you're at it, buy some of the original source material. It's good stuff.

Jaydiohead
Mos Dub
Doublecheck Your Head

While I'm talking mashups, let me include one of my favorites. It's a bit older but always worth another look:



Now get out there, buy some music, and party like it's your birthday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Considering the state of affairs


Well, people. My external hard drive? It looks like it shit the bed. Not good. I had a lot of my music there. A very sad state of affairs, indeed. So it makes the song I'm posting even more poignant. I think everyone and their mother has heard the Cee Lo track "Fuck You". It's how I feel towards this fucking piece of shit hard drive. Ah, well. My own damned fault, I guess.

Anyhow, Cee-Lo is already catching heat for the song. Just check this Washington Post article on it. You know what? Fuck you, FCC. And fuck you to anyone that finds it offensive. You're what's wrong with America. You're no less oppressive when it comes to language than the Islamic jihadists and their treatment of women.

If anyone that's uber-PC wants to give me shit about that comparison? Fuck you, too. You're also what's wrong with America. You meekly say that groups like the Klan have the right to speak publicly, and run at the slightest bit of confrontation, yet I can't say the word "paddywagon" without some dipshit Asian kid getting mad at me. True fucking story. So there you have it. There was a certain eventuality with this song that said this would happen. Groups would get pissy about language. Read that again. Pissed about language. Are you fucking stupid? A word makes you upset? A word??? Well, fuck you, too.

And by the way, I'm personally already fucking sick of this song.








Download Cee Lo Green - Fuck You

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm a Phonomancer Too...

*No Magic
Has a song ever changed your life?

Did you ever wonder how?

One of my guilty pleasures, and I have many, would be comics. More specifically, the graphic novel. Graphic novels are like watching a TV series on DVD. You get all the episodes in one neat package, and you don't have to wait a month to get the new issue at the comic book store.

Not that I mind going to the comic book store...but it saves me money if I don't have to go that frequently. Mostly because I lack self control. It's exponentially harder when your comic book store is as great as mine. Alternate Reality Comics is, and I say this with confidence because I've been around, the BEST comic book store of ALL TIME! OF ALL TIME! (when I wrote that I channeled Kanye West...)

The reason Alternate Reality is so amazing is the man behind the counter. Ralph Mathieu. Ralph owns the oldest comic book store in Las Vegas. Ralph has been in love with comic books since 1975. That's 34 years. In 1995 when Dungeon Comics, established in 1987, came up for sale Mr. Mathieu jumped at the chance. He also runs an awesome blog too! About comics obviously. Did I mention he's German? No? Check out Ich Liebe Comics when you are done here!

The best part is that once Ralph knows what you like, he runs around his store grabbing all the new stuff you should like based on what you are into. He's never been wrong. This last time I visited the store, I threw him a curve ball. Graphic Novels with a music theme? He hit it out of the park.

Phonogram. Two graphic novels about music. And magic.
You Must Dance

The stories revolve around Phonomancers, those who use music to enter magical states. A world where every song is a spell and every gig a chance for magical misadventure. The second book takes the perspective of 7 different Phonomancers on one night at a club.

I want to share four pages from the book. It's from the DJ and promoters' point of view. I should also remind you of the rules of this particular club night.

1. NO BOY SINGERS
2. YOU MUST DANCE
3. NO MAGIC


(You can click the images of the pages to make them full size...)










Download Sleater Kinney - I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone


Download The Supremes - You Keep Me Hanging On


Download The Pipettes - Pull Shapes


Download Robyn - Who's That Girl

I thought it would be fun to give you the soundtrack to these four pages. I hope that sharing these songs will romance you into buying the music from these talented women. More importantly, if you live in Vegas, that you might go see Ralph at Alternate Reality, or at least buy these great novels using the Amazon links below. This is the most important part really...to buy the novel. Because...well...because I really need you to. I'll let the writer of Phonogram, Kieron Gillen give you the bad news about why there will never be a third book:

Best plan I have is just writing series 3 and then writing into my will that assuming I die young and Jamie's still around, lob him whatever's in my bank account to draw it. Which is assuming he'd even be willing to do it then. It's not that we're bitter about it -- well, not just because we're bitter about it -- but that it's been emotionally exhausting. We've been doing "Phonogram" for over 4 years, not including the years before the first series came out. Imagine if we could have just done the comic and not had to deal with any of the shit we've had to. We'd have been up to issue 44 now. Instead, we have 13 issues.
I feel frustrated. Enormously lucky, sure, but frustrated. We've done this wonderful thing we're crazy-proud about. But if the whole economic system was just a couple of degrees to the left, everything would have been different. I mean, just to give you an idea about narrow the margins are between what we are and what we could be, if we were selling 6K instead of 4K, we could have done those 44 issues. The difference between breaking even and actually being able to do it in comics is insane. It's like being kept under ice, clawing. I feel like a bonsai plant.

C'mon people. Do this for me. I need more Phonogram.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

the sound of one band clapping

Most of us find it hard to hear new music without comparing it to something we're already familiar with. "This really reminds me of [insert awesome band whose obscurity makes you ultra-hip here]." I'd like to avoid this syndrome but I can't seem to, so why don't I just list some artists that came to mind while listening through If a Band Plays in the Woods... by Philistines Jr.: They Might Be Giants, The Flaming Lips, Eels, The Cure, Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Failure, Sigur Ros, Polyphonic Spree, New Order, Dntel, and more that I couldn't quite put my finger on. In case it didn't come across clearly, I'm saying this album has a ton of moods and shifts. The trick is putting it all together into something coherent and listenable. For the most part, that's what Philistines Jr. accomplish here.
One of the driving forces behind this band is Peter Katis, who has been building a solid reputation as a producer for acts like The National, Interpol, and Tokyo Police Club. Katis' ear for production is really what pulls this album's complex, multilayered tracks together. That's quite a feat when you're moving from a creepy string arrangement to a dramatic waltz ("Set List Title Cableguy") or an island groove to a driving dark rock anthem ("If I Did Nothing But Train for Two Years..."). These songs have more moods than Sybil but it all makes sense somehow. Take track 8, "Twenty Miles to NH," for example.

I have to draw one more comparison that I couldn't shake: somehow I was constantly reminded of Mull Historical Society. Remember them? Did anyone else actually listen to them? Here's a reminder or, perhaps more likely, an introduction:


Download Mull Historical Society - I Tried

Those guys were a little bit of alright. It might be a Scottish thing, but we can talk about that some other time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Watch for the Loose Rocks Under Your Feet

This week's album review is on a fully Canadian band. I mean, comes from Canada, sings about Canada, tours in Canada, no American media can be found for them in the least.

And in a reversal of trends, I am picking up on Said The Whale almost a year after second full-length album was released. (Get it, cuz Canada is always behind us? Ha ha. Yes I know, Canadian Hockey Team. Gold. 2010. Whatever. They invented the sport.)



I am an uncool Canadian kid
Awed and inspired by all the popular guys
Most of them are truly irresponsible
They do irresponsible things

But I'm just a heartbroken gentleman
And gentlemen never seem to get gentle women
I need a small town girl
To follow me home and teach me how to be a real man



Islands Disappear was released last October, after an EP in July and another full-length the summer previous. The band formed officially in 2007 after a few years of basement recordings by high school pals. And they haven't always sung about Canada. Their 2008 album Taking Albalonia and subsequent re-release Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia are both much more upbeat, while at the same time, so very indie.

This makes me appreciate Islands Disappear all the more. Knowing what the band is capable of makes it enjoyable to listen to a dedication of sorts to the vast, expansive Canadian homeland and all the pioneers who have shaped its history.


Download Said The Whale - Out on the Shield

...Recent history is not ignored on this album. Lest you think the very popular (well, in Canada...) track "Camilo (The Magician)" is just a fun song about an imaginary character, oh no dear. Mago Camilo is a young Colombian man whose life has been made of magic, and who has chosen the True North as his second home.


Download Said The Whale - Camilo (The Magician)

They released a new EP earlier this year, and they're submitting new songs to Canadian radio all of the time. What say you, America? Are you going to catch up to the Syrup Lickers?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bit ashamed to admit this, but....

I have slept on quite a bit of hip-hop over the last 12-15 years. Why? It turned to utter shit. That's why. Don't tell me otherwise. I mean, there's been a smattering of decent stuff over the years. I get that. J5, for example. Stellar shit. Then there's the music that the recently deceased Jay Dee - aka J Dilla - helped create for so many others. He happens to be one of the guys I'm talking about today in my post. Ever heard a lot of what he did? This next one, for some reason, just blew me away with its simplicity and really did describe the title of the album Ruff Draft.

The track "Nothing Like This" is just a phenomenal piece of work and was released also released by the Adult Swim people on Stones Throw Records on a compilation entitled Chrome Children. The video for this track is nothing short of incredible, also. Check it out.



If you guys haven't somehow heard of Jay Dee, I suggest reading an article that The Detroit Free Press did on him just a few weeks after he passed away. You will get an idea of the kind of dedication to music he had. Click here to read that story. And now, here's that track "Nothing Like This".








Download J Dilla - Nothing Like This

The other artist is one that's gotten a ton of pub the last couple of years. It's Kid Cudi. Yeah, I will take some shit from the uber-indie crowd. Well, fuck you. I say that with a smile, so don't worry. I am the type that will give credit where it's due. If a band or artist I can't stand makes a good track, I'll openly say it. Not that I dislike Kid Cudi, but considering how mainstream he's gotten, I pretty much never paid much mind to him. My bad, I guess.

Well, the opening track to his album Man on the Moon - The End of Day is a hypnotic piece. It's called "Here In My Dreams" and I would have to say that this is a pretty solid piece of work, and a great way to start off an album. Mind you, I haven't really heard the rest of it. The only other track I had heard was "Day 'n' Nite", which I actually have here, but not the original. I've added along The Crookers Remix of that track. This is the sort of remix that the Canadian DJ Duo Jokers of the Scene would add into a set. And I wouldn't be surprised if they had.








Download Kid Cudi - In My Dreams








Download Kid Cudi - Day 'n' Nite (Crookers Remix)

Buy something. If you don't, god will kill a dumb person. Actually, that's a good thing. Well, just buy something. Because I said so. And yes, I didn't capitalize "god". Big deal.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How can it be bullshit to state a preference?



High Fidelity Movie Poster
I'd feel guilty taking their money...if I wasn't one of them.

-Rob



I wish I could remember the backstory reason for why people often recommend High Fidelity to me. It's probably not too crazy to assume that if someone got to know me that they might think I would love this movie. Even after all those recommendations, and reading other books by Nick Hornby, I still managed to never see High Fidelity. Until today. These are my notes while watching the movie. I even notated the elapsed time, in case you want to follow along. Just for the record, if someone had mentioned a relatively unknown Catherine Zeta Jones was in the movie, I might have made it happen sooner. *Also...I probably should have watched it alone.

:17 I love vinyl. I love looking at vinyl. I love listening to vinyl. I love watching vinyls spin on the platter. They have me locked 17 seconds in.
1:29 ah. The chicken or the egg dilemma.

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

3:50 I too have had a relationship this short! 6 hours. My day at the YMCA started off awesome as I had attracted the interest of a cute girl with a ponytail and a pink and green jacket. She realized she had better options by the end of the day.
7:40 Belle & Sebastian
8:02 Belle & Sebastian is not really Barry's (Jack Black's character) cup of tea. Although for me, sometimes you gotta be in the right mood for Belle & Sabastian.
9:37 how can it be bullshit to state a preference
9:51 top five records to play on a monday morning and all that (But it's Monday afternoon now.)
Rob Gordon (John Cusack)
13:33 look into this Johnny Cash book: Johnny Cash's autobiography "Cash" by Johnny Cash.
14:35 Snobby record store employees are the bane of my existence. Ever since the guy in the Ween shirt at the store Balcony Lights shunned me.
17:22
Some people never got over Vietnam, or the night their band opened for Nirvana. I guess I never got over Charlie.

20:17 chronological. NO. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL. Holy shit!
21:39 man. I can relate to this feeling. All these parents want is marriage and grandkids. And if it hasn't happened it must be you who fucks it up.
22:20 Peter Fucking Frampton (baby i love the way) "Baby, I Love Your Way" went to No. 12 on the charts.
23:49 Jack Black wants to date a musician. I kinda want to date a musician too. That would be nice to discuss music, be a part of the process of song writing and creation. I'm just a groupie looking for love...

27:19

Top 5 Side Ones. Track Ones

1. "Janie Jones" by The Clash from The Clash (meh.)
2. "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye from Let's Get It On
3. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana from Nevermind (Barry: That's not obvious enough)
4. "White Light/White Heat" by Velvet Underground from White Light/White Heat
5. "Radiation Ruling the Nation" by Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor off No Protection

34:34 LOL Rob Gordon was a dj! I was a DJ. I had a short lived career though. I quit right around the time I realized that DJ's get paid free drinks and barely any money. That and I hated having to take requests.
35:12 I'll make you a tape!
41:54 BRUCE! Have you ever had conversations with someone you admire? Like, have you ever discussed life's problems with Trent Reznor or Kurt Cobain? Maybe in your mind you discussed relationship problems while smoking joint with Tupac Shakur?
45:55 Remember phone books?
46:12 oh...and answering machines!
46:52 Green Day was influenced by the Clash...and oh..it's the physicist slut from The Big Bang Theory
48:23 The Beta Band Beta Band's 3 EPs: The album was released in 1998 by Astralwerks, after their self-titled debut. The song, "Dry the Rain," from he EP Champion Versions put them on the map.
48:34 shoplifters - my first shoplifting episode?...I stole Danzig's Mother from a local record store. (ashamed)
54:21 LOL, ROFL, ha ha ha... We are the Champions!
55:38
I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like... Books, records, films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the fuckin' truth, and by this measure I was having one of the best dates of my life.
57:01 "Behind Closed Doors" by Charlie Rich: A No. 1 for Rich in 1973, taken from the album of the same name. It's one of Rob's favorite songs. Need to check that out.
John Cusack and Lisa Bonet
57:44 Lisa Bonet IS HOT!
1:14:16 For the record I would die to open a record store like this. Maybe that's what I should do...LOL
1:17:22 I like the way The Little One smells and tastes...i would miss that if she broke up with me.
1:19:44 Pop Abrams and the Smurfs? Gotta look that up later...
1:21:52 is this where Jack Black realized he should create Tenacious D
1:22:24 Songs Rob wants at his funeral: "Many Rivers To Cross" by Jimmy Cliff, "Angel" by Aretha Franklin and "You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me" by Gladys Knight.
1:30:01 "And so we got back together!" ...after an awkward my dad just died...and I feel numb, let's screw in the car scene. ew.
1:30:39
Rob: Liking both Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel is like supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Laura: No, it’s really not, Rob. You know why? Because Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel make pop records.
Rob: Made. Made. Marvin Gaye is dead. His father shot him.
1:33:58 “You’re making something,” his girlfriend tells him approvingly. “You—the critic, the professional appreciator—put something new into the world.”
1:34:48 I'll just make you a tape. This is the standard way a music snob picks up a music snob
1:36:38 The marriage proposal...I don't think she said "yes"?
*1:38:00 ah! Those cotton panties that have been washed a 100 times... (Nodding my head approvingly gets me slapped in the head.) Edit by TLO: Uh, that is because TLO owns NO SUCH THING, so thinking about someone else's ratty underwear isn't going to brighten the day!
1:40:49 Definitely watching the beginnings of Tenacious D. Right?
1:42:44 Great Movie...why did I wait so long to watch this? It's a break-up movie mash-up! I loved the "Top 5" theme that Cusack's character employees throughout the movie. so....

Here's MY top 5 of favorite songs from live shows this year!

1. Neon Trees - 1983
I've seen this band twice already this year. This song rocks so much...I love it! Tyler Glenn, the front-man/keyboardist/songwriter for the band says 1983 is about his mother...spreading her legs...to give birth to him. Um...it's better than what I thought it was about.



Electric Toys
2. The Dig - She's Going To Kill That Boy
It's a great song, especially in concert. Saw them when they opened for Thrice this year. Bought the album "Electric Toys" afterwards. Great album cover, but be sure to flip it over to get a giggle.



3. Thrice - Image Of The Invisible
It was nice to hear this relatively old song (5 years ago) since the last time I saw Thrice it was notably absent.


4. Cypress Hill - Insane in the Brain
I saw Cypress Hill in 2010 at the Mandalay Beach Pool. With my feet in the pool...and well...a smoke in between my fingers. Surely you have heard Insane in the Membrane a gabillion times...so I offer this awesome remix by the 2 Bit Thugs instead.



5. Imagine Dragons - I Don't Mind
Vegas band that blew my mind. This band is a must to look into, because we're sure they will be a force to be beckoned by in the near future. Yes. Beckoned. You can TRY and ignore them...






Sunday, August 15, 2010

Introductions

Let me introduce myself as a new contributor around here. I'll do my best not to be the new neighbor who moves in and leaves the house in disrepair just long enough to go into foreclosure, bringing down everyone's property values. I promise I'll mow the lawn every week. Just keep those damn kids off it in the meantime or there will be some serious fist shaking going on. You've been warned.
This new beginning has got me thinking about other great beginnings. In particular, great album openers. So I've put together a little list of what I consider some of the Best. Opening tracks. Ever. Here are my criteria:

1. The album itself has to be solid. None of these lopsided records that start strong but peter out by the time you're through.
2. The first track should effectively set the tone for the rest of the album.

That's it. That still leaves things wide open, and I could make a list that never ends, so I've narrowed it down to 3 selections that have special significance due to their impact at the time I first heard them.


The Afghan Whigs
The Afghan Whigs. "If I Were Going". From the album Gentlemen:

This is a moody album, and the opening track embodies that aesthetic fully. It sets the stage for a record that lies somewhere between concept album and musical theater in its repetition and reworking of themes. The album had been in my car stereo for weeks and I never really took the time to give it a close listen until one night on a lonely drive through the Virgin River Gorge. The moon was out and I was lost in thought, then I heard the opening distant train noise, the Saddest Tambourine Ever(tm), and the sparse guitar riff. From there I was hooked. Turn off the lights and let this one sink in. You're in for a hell of a ride.


Download Afghan Whigs - If I Were Going


Radiohead
Radiohead. "Airbag". From the album OK Computer:

I realize I could justify naming the opener from any Radiohead album since The Bends, but this has remained my overall favorite of their works so far. As far as establishing tone, this track does it in spades. Expertly matched guitars, paranoid sci-fi vocals, frenetic looped drums, and a stuttering bass line, all interspersed with computer sounds. It captured my feelings about the adult world I was just starting to play in, and made me feel like I had some crazy talented friends overseas who understood it all. I remember wondering if this was a new direction in Radiohead's music. It was. And maybe a change in music all around.



Download Radiohead - Airbag



Matthew Good Band
Matthew Good Band. "Giant". From the album Beautiful Midnight:

Combining cheerleaders with rock music has been done since, and probably before, but never with as much aplomb (yeah, you heard me, Marilyn Manson). The cheer and drum beat put you back in the bleachers at your high school pep rally, then things shift and Matthew Good takes over with his fabulous brand of Canadian rock. Writing about it, I'm not sure it works. Listening to it, I have no doubt it does. This album came at a time when I was delving into math rock and complex polyrhythmic music, and it reminded me that sometimes you just need to shut up, stop counting, and rock.


Download Matthew Good Band - Giant




That's my short list. It was nice meeting all of you. Thanks for the apple pie and brownies. I think I'll like it here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today's a Michel Gondry kind of day


Michel Gondry makes me happy. When I found out he was the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I almost immediately went to see it in the theater. Same goes for The Science of Sleep. The latter is almost becoming prophetic in the sense that we're watching the combination of the real world with the imagined through the internet and gaming. Soon, who's to say we'll be able to tell the difference? Is it a good thing that realism is brought to such a high level? At what cost? That's a separate discussion, however. One that I could have at length over a beer or two.

Anyhow, this week's post is more about some of the songs and videos that Mr. Gondry has done over the years. I thought about Gondry because he loves the use of stop-motion, which sounds easy, but definitely isn't. Not all of these use that method, but the creativity he possesses can't be denied. First off, we go with the easy one. Daft Punk's "Around the World". The entire album Homework is brilliant. Hard to say about an electronica album. This video, like the one later by the Chemical Brothers, uses the elements seen as representation of the different elements used in the song.








Download Daft Punk - Around The World



Next is one most of us probably forgot about. Lucas. Anyone? No? Okay, well just take a listen to this song and/or watch the video and you'll remember it pretty quickly. And yes, Gondry did direct this!









Download Lucas - Lucas With The Lid Off



How about that? Most folks probably forgot about that guy. Well, next is the one that relates to the Daft Punk video. The Chemical Brothers' video for "Star Guitar" at first doesn't really dazzle anyone. Pay attention to the scenery through the train window, however, and how it enters the video. The first time I realized what Gondry did, I was simply amazed and re-watched this video another half-dozen times. It's simply brilliant. I'm watching it again right now, and just giddy. Seriously.








Download The Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar



Last up is the stop-motion I spoke of. He used a lot of this in The Science of Sleep, and used it with some of his videos. For The White Stripes' "The Hardest Button to Button", we see it done, and one can only imagine how much work went into filming and editing this. It's crazy the ambition this man has to create what is essentially art through motion. It's now time for us to appreciate it.








Download The White Stripes - The Hardest Button to Button



Now, quit reading this and buy something.

Monday, August 9, 2010

daddies lonely rocket radio

Honeytrap
A bowler hat he wore, his eyes became obscured, his teeth were telescopes,
you should have seen his legs were the rolling rivers, they call him the forgiver although he cannot forgive

With the proliferation of the hardware and software to allow any musician to record and master an album, we have entered exciting and refreshing times in music. There are many people making music now, without the help of a label and it's marketing machine. Enter the music blog. Once your blog is established... bands, labels, and even your friends will send music for submission. My inbox gets stuffed with links to bandcamp and soundcloud. NOT complaining, but it's tough to get through it all. As a necessity, I must only allocate a brief read and listen and move on if I wish to clear the unread messages in one sitting. Sometimes though, something catches my eye or ear, and I settle in for a more in-depth discovery.

Laura Roslin, President of the 12 Colonies
In this case, it was a rather innocuous thing that grabbed my attention. The title of a song. "ROSYLN IS A CYLON". Being a fan of the BattlesStar Galactica franchise, including the 2003 re-imagining, gave me cause to pause and pay attention. If you avoided watching BSG because you thought it was, well...to geeky for your tastes, I don't think I can get you up to speed with out making this post too long winded. In a nutshell, Roslin was the president of the 12 Colonies and Cylons are a race of sentient machines, created by humans. These machines had learned how to look human, so figuring out who was a human and who was a "skin-job" made for some interesting episodes throughout the series.

I quickly load up track two off Petrushka , the yet to be released LP from the band Honeytrap, and take a listen.


Download Honeytrap - Roslin Is A Cylon

The sound of the song, and much of the album, is unconventional in many ways, yet strangely familiar. An Eastern European sound combined with Folk and Rock, much like Gogol Bordello, but with a Pop sensibility that will likely allow them that crossover factor that is so important today.

David Bowie is a fan, and sums up the band well in this quote taken from the The Times:
Balkan-inspired slice of craziness... Puts me in mind of some of Camper Van Beethoven's finer moments.

Oh yeah! Camper Van Beethoven! The side project of lead singer, and co-founder of the band Cracker! Damn that Bowie is good. It's a good thing HE doesn't have a music blog!

Curious about the origins of the song and expecting a BSG fan's fantastical analysis of some episode where a clue was found pointing to the possibility of Roslin secretly being a Cylon (she isn't) and using her presidency as a way to undermine the fleet (she didn't), lead me to shoot an email off to the band.

"Big Dan" (guitar/vox) was the author of this particular song, and quickly replied back with an explanation. Sadly, no BSG fan was found, but the story was interesting none the less.

The song is basically about being under control. I guess it represents the lack of trust the the government had for us. There is the shadowy figure always watchful throughout the track, representing the feeling of a nanny state I was having at the time. The Roslin line comes from a sign in the toilet where I work. Its printed "please be careful, leave the bowl as found". I got squeamish at the thought of the management unable to trust its educated staff to properly use such facilities and it went into the song. There's a little cartoon fish in the picture and someone has scrawled "Roslin is a Cylon" as a speech bubble.

I guess there was no point in asking if he was disappointed in the ending of the BattleStar series. (frown)

Sometimes it's a song title, or an album cover...but to an up-and-coming band to get noticed, takes a bit of luck sometimes. Luckily for me, I noticed a song title and discovered a great band in the process.

You can pre-order the album Petrushka on Honeytrap's BandCamp site. I suggest you do...unless you are some sort of Skin Job?

Friday, August 6, 2010

That's All You'll Ever Get From Me

This band is getting a lot of press as "The next big thing from Vegas." I don't mean to be a balloon-popper, but you've got a lead singer who is a Vegas native, his cronies from BYU, and their cronies from the east coast who all moved to Vegas a year ago. So I don't know if I am supposed to point out their similarities with The Killers or why they are dissimilar or whether just having mixed musical elements makes you sound like The Killers... But it's effing hot outside and inside, I'm afraid to kick my thermostat over 80 lest my power bill surpass the $423 it was for the last month, I want to work out but where would I do it, and it's making me kind of oh... Wait.

Now that you've had your serving of piss with corn flakes, let me say that Imagine Dragons truly have an amazing stage presence, put on a great show, and have an impressive sound.



Imagine Dragons is Dan Reynolds on vocals and keys, Wayne Sermon on guitar, Brittany Tolman on keys, Ben McKee on bass, and Andrew Tolman on drums (yes, married. Recently.) They recorded their first EP upon moving to Las Vegas from Utah. It was good. Then they released a second, and it's ten times better. So... Maybe the heat didn't get to them yet. Maybe they knew they needed to be in Reynolds' hometown to really get the energy flowing. Maybe the fact that his brother is also the Killers' manager doesn't hurt with the momentum either.

It's working. They have knocked out competition in multiple Battles of the Bands, traveling extensively to provide the beat-down with their energetic on-stage presence. I saw them open for Paper Tongues, Civil Twilight, and Neon Trees. They were unequivocally better than the other two openers.

Not everyone agrees. Molly Bergen from West Coast Sound said, "It was exactly the kind of neutered, harmless pop rock that made Maroon 5 and Train stars. With their lead singer's good looks and passionate thrashing on stage they should go far." OUCH! Well, what are you going to do. They're the rockin'est Mormons since the Osmonds. You gotta start somewhere. They've got endorsements from Vegas' local "mix" station as well as from their "alternative" station, so maybe Bergen isn't too far off.



Download Imagine Dragons - I Don't Mind

After an amazing week in Los Angeles and performance in Las Vegas, the band is headed back to Provo for a week, seemingly to relax since the next gig is on Friday at Club Velour. Then it's on to Park City for a festie, back to Vegas in September for a show at the Pub at Monte Carlo - that sounds like a good time! - and then back to return to the scene of their recent domination at the Viper Room.

You need to get on this.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You're a Heartless Bastard

As an aside, I'm writing this all while listening to a ton of old house and electronica. The antithesis to what I'll be posting, today. In fact, since I can't find a good audio program on the cheap to rip all my old vinyl, I've resorted to digging around youtube to find some of it. What am I listening to right now?



That seriously could be the best choon Armand did on the remix tip. No joke. That's just some filthy disco goodness. Nice use of low and hi-pass filters to tease everything in, too. I used to kill this track when I dj'ed. Ah, memories.

Anyways, let's get back to what the hell I meant to write about. And before you little hipster snobs start giving me shit, yes, I am just hearing about the band I'm posting today. No, you don't have cred. Stop it. Speaking of hipsters, that reminds me of quite possibly my favorite joke. Ever. I mean, ever. Because it's fucking funny. I love swearing to accentuate things. In my mind, it makes me seem chic without trying. Or just an ass. Take your pick. Anyways:

How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

insert dramatic pause here

It's a really obscure number. You've probably never heard of it.

Yes, I think I've made a few people angry, but also a few people have smirked. Hopefully, a few also snorted milk through their nose. If so, send pics. But, uh, yeah. I keep getting off track. The band in question today is Heartless Bastards. I mean, I heard this song "The Mountain" on Saturday while driving into work, and my mind was just blown. It's epic. Seriously. Epic. Say that word along with me, now - epic. Italics are cool, huh?

So I guess the former producer of Spoon, Mike McCarthy, produced this latest album, entitled The Mountain. So far? I like what I hear. And today I bring you a couple nuggets of goodness. Seriously. You guys read through a pointless diatribe (I hope) just to get to this point. Oh, and here's also something else I've been listening to. Because holy shit is the video just disturbingly funny. I mean, almost to the point where it's hypnotic. Not Hpnotiq. That's cognac for sissies. This, however, isn't for sissies. And I mean that for both the video and the Heartless Bastards tracks I'm posting.



Yeah. Now music. The stuff you're here for.








Download Heartless Bastards - The Mountain








Download Heartless Bastards - Out To Sea

Buy shit. Now. Please?

Monday, August 2, 2010

me·te·or·ic


I want to introduce you to two guys with a lot of talent as musicians who have a lofty goal: To get the world to appreciate electro, dubstep, and nudisco.

Aptly named On The Rise, two sophomores at Bucknell University are quickly gaining attention and picking up fans at every show they rock. They're playing some of the hottest and unique dubstep/electro/indie mashups every weekend at parties all over the Northwest. They have even booked east coast gigs at venues such as The Middle East in Boston and Webster Hall in New York City (August 4th).


Get Low! Clap Those Hands! by dougbogan

On The Rise is Brian Pei and Doug Bogan. They met as freshmen out at Bucknell and discovered they both were musicians with similar tastes in music. Brian plays guitar and Doug is a classical pianist. After becoming friends they started to play acoustic shows together. One day Doug asked Brian if he would like to join him at DJ'ing gigs...and well...the rest is history!



They are a little crazy though. Right? I mean who would take the band Thee Armada and mash it up with Ludacris! It sounds awesome, I just want to know where do you get the idea!

Rock Shock and Low by dougbogan

On The Rise even put together a dubstep mashup exclusively for us! We are proud and honored to present to you, this amazing exclusive. Take the Grifta Dubstep Remix of Deadmau5's "Faxing Berlin", Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad" and, because that's not big enough already...add the song "Move Shake Drop" from DJ Laz. Submitted for your approval:


Download On The Rise - Faxing Baghdad (inALLcaps exclusive!)

Wait...I got more! Check out this 7 minute megamix...it's fantastic.

Doug Bogan Vol II by dougbogan

If that's what 7 minutes of what On The Rise sounds like at a show, how COULD you miss it. You wouldn't.