Monday, February 28, 2011

I Will Meet You In Your Heart


I am currently smitten  with Minneapolis band Tapes N' Tapes. The group is named after the boxes of tapes the band had recorded demos on.

Their first full-length album, The Loon, was released in 2005 and was recorded by the band... Indie DIY style. The recording took place in a Wisconsin cabin with no running water.

Tapes N' Tapes had some great timing with the release of this record. The hype of music blogs had really begun to achieve new heights and prominence. Many up and coming blogs back then wrote up The Loon favorably. They compared them to The Pixies and Pavement. They were hailed as one of the first "Blog Bands". Then Pitchfork Media gave them a "Best New Music" commendation.

The sophomore effort Walk It Off, released in 2008, was not reviewed so favorably. I think it's a great piece of work. It's just a different direction that many people felt had more to do with producer David Fridmann (many consider Fridmann the 5th Flaming Lip for his influence and production on that band).

After a small hiatus, the band is back...and when I mean back, I mean back to basics. Their 2011 release, Outside, was again produced by the band. It is a return to the sound of The Loon. They have regained their status with the bloggers and the fans alike.

I for one can't stop playing this new album. It seems the band continues to be influenced by The Pixies and Pavement, as well as by Modest Mouse and maybe even The Strokes.

The album got me searching for possible hidden meanings of a track titled Outro placed on the middle of the album. I had, at first, thought that maybe they were making a play on the fact that track 6 might have fallen at the end of side 1 of a cassette tape. I did some math...and the end of track 6 comes in at 19 minutes, 52 seconds.  I was right.  Outro finishes "side 1" with a raucous exit. 

Click to listen to Tapes N' Tapes - Outro


Short but fucking sweet. There are some great tracks on this album. Buy the album and be sure to check out "Freak Out", which is the band's first single, as well as "The Saddest Of All Keys" which I have set to repeat in my car:


Click to listen to Tapes N' Tapes - Saddest of All Keys

  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

crooning from the darkness

What do you do after you've nailed multiple genres and been in highly-respected bands like Murder City Devils and Pretty Girls Make Graves? You change it up again, of course.

Derek Fudesco, of the previously mentioned bands, is now a member of The Cave Singers. Their third album No Witch dropped this week. It's a folksy romp of an album full of understated guitars and melodies that could bring the Hatfields and McCoys together for an afternoon luncheon. It made me want to drink a bottle of moonshine and dance around in bare feet. In other words, it's got a downhome swagger that you just can't avoid. Here's the opening track as an example.

Click to play The Cave Singers - Gifts And The Raft

The key is the album's simplicity. The production is very clean but there's never too much going on. These guys aren't trying to overwhelm you with a ton of music, they just want to overwhelm you with GOOD music. It works. I'm particularly hooked on the slinkly track "Falls" right now.

Click to play The Cave Singers - Falls

I'd put this album right up with some of the better folk/blues albums around right now. The Cave Singers can hang with The Black Keys, sure. Just let me know so I can be around to listen in.

Click to play The Cave Singers - Haystacks

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spare Bricks Can Be Dead Weight

It's that time again. One of my favorite bands has released another album, and it's time for me to snot and slobber on and on about how great it is.
Enter antithetic sentence here - wait, no. I was being completely genuine. I am about to snot and slobber over how great Bayside's fifth major album, Killing Time, is. It's sick, sick, sick.


Click to Enjoy Bayside - Sick, Sick, Sick

Anthony Raneri's viciously self-aware lyrics have absolutely never failed to create the sharpest possible framework for each song, each album, each live performance. The combination of guitar sounds between Nick, Jack, and Anthony make sure that no matter how complicated the issue these lyrics skillfully dissect, the track will still melt your face. And then there is the skinny little fireball drummer, Chris, who picked up after the devastating death of the band's previous drummer and lead them right through multiple successful albums. Watching him live is inspiring.

You need a map to see how far I was sticking out my neck





Whether it is in a club setting, a dive bar, or a huge outdoor stage - the Bayside live show is amazing and not to be missed. Record store acoustic performances ain't terrible either. It may be a lot of emo/punk/uncategorized kids who are into this band, but this can't possibly be a bad thing. Let's hope some of Ant's expert wordsmithery makes it into their vocabs sometime soon.



But can a person make a difference if he never makes a sound?

You can't define this sub-genre. It is rock. This is rock music. These are working-class guys. They speak to everyone. You are guilty of committing the crimes these songs have called out. You have felt the pain and loss that they've so eloquently lamented. You've felt as doe-eyed in love. You've felt as murderously wronged. You don't have to be Emo to feel these things. It's rock and roll music (any old way you choose it.)

So buy Killing Time, and buy it for your friends too. I mean buy it. And buy a ticket to their show. I promise you, one will come nearby. These guys tour like a... rock band.

So stand for something cause something's overdue
And I don't ask for much, but this could define a lifetime.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Put A Ring On It, As Well As A Twist To It

This one just defies words. Seriously. Our house music pal Derrick Carter shared this video on his wall on Facebook last night.



I was in full scale shock. Was this real? It is, in fact, real. The Cleverlys are for real. And making a DVD. The above really just defies words. But even better? Is their cover of a terrible Black Eyed Peas song. And they made it sound great. Well, it sounds great, to me.



So, yeah. I really hope I am not pissing anyone off by posting this, but it has to be done. It's amazeballs.

Click to Play The Cleverlys - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

Click to Play The Cleverlys - I Gotta Feeling

Click to Play Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Not a single one of us has the guts to bear a cross



The Dears

I had never heard of Montreal based band The Dears before seeing that video. Needless to say, but for the sake of word count, I'm a fan now. You might hear Morrissey in Murray Lightburn's voice and lyrics. Lightburn has been quoted saying he is "absolutely fucking bored to death" with the comparison. He does sound a little like Morrissey, but can also sound a lot like Marvin Gaye at times.

I am mostly enamoured with the sound and songwriting of the band. It's reminiscent of everything I love about Radiohead, Broken Social Scene, and TV on the Radio*. Adjectives that apply? Heroic, epic, expansive, dynamic.

The band had broken up after its 2008 release Missles. It regrouped, shed all members keeping only Lightburn's wife, singer and keyboardist Natalia Yanchak. They brought back previous guitarists Patrick Krief and Rob Benvie and bassist Roberto Arquilla while adding a completely new member in Jeff Luciani on drums. With the reformation compelte they set off to record their latest album Degeneration Street. The new album is by far the best album in the discography, but I woudn't sleep on their previous efforts. Check out a track from the Degeneration Street:

Click here to play The Dears - Thrones

I felt like the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences really wanted to bless an indie band for the 53rd Grammy Awards that took place this year. That nod went to the mostly undeserving band, Arcade Fire, who happen to also be from Montreal. I believe that The Dears might have been a more deserving nominee. Not that it was nominated. It's just my opinion. I can also say with 100% certainty that The Dears would have put on a much better performance on Grammy Night.

There IS a reason why our post titled "Arcade Fire Sucks," written June 2010, has suddenly shot up to the most vistied post on our site since the night of the Grammys. They just kinda suck...

Watch the video below for a glimpse of what MIGHT have been.




Sunday, February 20, 2011

long live the king

Sometimes things just fall into place. For example, I have to write a post for a little blog I'm part of, and Radiohead happens to release a new album two days beforehand. I like to pretend they check the site every weekend to see my ever-interesting take on music and chose to align the release in my favor. In fact, let's not even pretend: for all anyone knows that's the truth.


Radiohead

In case you haven't heard, the new album is named The King Of Limbs . It's a shorter affair than previous Radiohead albums, with only 8 tracks. I hardly noticed, due to the fact that the band has pretty much mastered the ability to put me into a trance-like state from the opening notes to the last. Well, there's a bit of an exception this time: "Bloom," the opening track is somewhat chaotic with its bizarre drum beat and droning sounds. It's still great and I found myself humming the bass line after one listen, but it's a somewhat challenging start. From there things really pick up.

Click to play Radiohead - Morning Mr Magpie

That's the second song, "Morning Mr Magpie." It's probably the most driving track on the album. Moving forward you get shifting textures and subtleties that will take many more listens to grasp. Radiohead always manages to keep us guessing, yet through all their experimentation the end result is well-written, often beautiful music.

Since the album is so short I'm not going to post any more songs. I will, however, give you this video for the new single "Lotus Flower." Thom Yorke is just crazy enough to make the solo dancing concept work.



I doubt I need to tell you to get this album. I will anyway. It's excellent. Order it from kingoflimbs.com and you can listen to it now. Unless, of course, you want all the fancy add-ons, like clear vinyl albums and tons of artwork. You'll have to wait a few more weeks for that to be delivered. It will be like Christmas in March!

Friday, February 18, 2011

While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

"If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place."



Pay attention.  You are about to read about a young artist who has completely redefined an instrument.  Jake Shimabukuro, a 5th-generation Hawaiian, started playing the ukulele at age 4.  Like "everyone" else in Hawaii.  He started to play along to the pop songs.  He took lessons in other instruments just to improve his uke skills.  Now, as a solo artist, he has released nine albums.  Peace Love Ukulele is the latest, released last month.

Take a listen to "Bring Your Adz":


I actually saw one of Shimabukuro's performances in upstate New York two summers ago.  It is an entrancing thing to behold.  He transforms the sounds of this instrument.  The reaction to this performance is similar to seeing what guitar virtuosos have done.  To Jake, though, he says on his website that he was more inspired by what he saw other artists do with their crafts:

He says he
"credits Bruce Lee and Bill Cosby for creating the foundation of his art. “Bruce Lee’s philosophy on martial arts was that it’s a form of human expression,” he says. “And he didn’t believe in having one ‘style.’ He studied all forms and was open to everything. That really stuck in my mind as far as music goes. And Bill Cosby – here’s a performer who can just sit in a chair with a mic, tell stories and entrance millions of people. I wanted to tap into that energy, of just performing alone and connecting with an audience.”"



Jake Shimabukuro, live in Schenectady, NY
Photo taken by post author
It's true. This is exactly what happens at one of his performances.  He writes each song from a place inside of him.  He tells the story of the song before sharing the music with you.  And you can hear - you can hear what he is trying to convey to you.


From his father's low tank of gas, to secret messages from teenagers, to tributes to Japanese American soldiers during World War II... To the covers...  Each song is a treat.

Watch the TED Talks video of his "Bohemian Rhapsody" cover.




“Covers on the ukulele are hard!” Jake says. “You can simplify any song, but to actually come up with an arrangement that’s respectful to the composer is quite a challenge. With ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ I tried to differentiate the vocal line from the piano line and guitar…It was tough, but really paid off. When I play it live, people usually just shake their head and laugh.”







You can see Jake perform in coffee shops, cultural centers, bandshells at your local waterfront park... Check out his page at jakeshimbukuro.com for merch and tour dates. Hawaii and California in March, a little bit of Washington, Texas, Nevada, back to New York again... You will love him.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We All Shine On


What we're witnessing in the world is quite amazing. Tunisia and Egypt are simply the beginning, it seems, as people around the world have become fed up with their respective regimes and have stopped being scared. Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and Iran are seeing large scale demonstrations never seen before. Throw in the unrest that grows in countries like Sudan and the Ivory Coast, and we're witnessing something that has spread almost in viral fashion.

That said, I've run into many people here in the US that seem just as disenfranchised with our own government. The idea that two parties rule all is their main concern. The concerns that many become infected with the corruption. Many of these people, regardless of political affiliation - and I've met many on both the far left and far right - have to understand that in our country, revolution does indeed start from the bottom. Become more active in your local community. Work to perhaps become elected to your school council or town hall. We are simply still too content and naive to be able to understand what a real revolution entails. Until we hit the dire straits that countries like Egypt faced, we won't understand. It's a simple fact.

In the meantime, the leaders in all of the countries I mentioned are facing karma on a whole new scale. Soon, they won't be able to beat back the forces of change. Violence simply doesn't solve problems. It does beget more violence. The amazing part of what was seen in Egypt is how largely peaceful it was. Others around the world have taken notice. Here's hoping that the peaceful demonstrations continue and that the protesters don't feel the need to live by the saying of "an eye for an eye." Gandhi said it best:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.


Click to Play John Lennon - Instant Karma

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Freedom is the answer. Who's next?

I'm reposting this from the site Khalas, and reposting it without permission. I hope they won't mind. Please check out Khalas at http://enoughgaddafi.com/ You should also pick up the mixtape of hip-hop protest songs from artists all over the arab regions of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria. It's dope, even if you don't understand all the words! The mixtape can be found here.

Khalas is the arabic word for Enough. The Tunisians and the Egyptians had enough. Who's next? How Soon? Read on...

Click to play Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Amir Sulaiman & Ayah - #Jan25

Protesters are confronted by riot police. (huffingtonpost.com)
There are many ways to take the life of a human being. There’s the Mubarak way: allow corrupt police officers to smash an innocent young man’s skull in broad daylight in front of witnesses, then let those officers go with little more than a slap on the wrist. There’s the Ben Ali way: over a lifetime deprive him of his dignity and means of supporting his family until he snaps and, out of sheer desperation, takes his own life. Then there’s the Gaddafi way: hang the young men in public, replay their execution on television over and over again, leave some of their bodies dangling from the gallows for days, and drag the rest through the streets for all to see and take heed, just as he did on February 17th, 1987.

Egypt and much of the Arab world wept for Khaled Said, for the needlessness of his murder, for its brutality, for the cheapness of his life in the eyes of the very government purporting to bring “peace” and “stability” to his country. Those of us on the outside watched with admiration as peaceful demonstrators lined the corniche in Alexandria last summer in silent protest, outnumbered by police in full riot gear, wondering if Said’s death would galvanize the Egyptian people to demand change. And now, seven months later, the people have finally risen up and said enough, have outnumbered the police and resisted their attacks, have scoffed at the regime as it digs in its heels and continues to hide behind its lies about “stability.” But what happened between Khaled Said’s tragic murder last June and the January 25th uprising that finally roused the sleeping giant in Egypt? The answer, as we all know, lies in Tunisia.

Tunisia and much of the Arab world wept, too, for Muhammad Bouazizi, not only because of the tragic circumstances of his suicide, but because so many Arabs understood all too well that feeling of impotence and rage that comes from having one’s head repeatedly stepped on—from being repeatedly violated—with no hope for justice and no way of fighting back. Bouazizi took his own life because he could no longer endure living under a system which had stripped him of his humanity, his livelihood and his future; in that state of mind, pushed beyond the limits of reason or hope, the idea of burning became less hateful to him in comparison. So, in a highly symbolic act, a young man driven to the brink lit his body on fire in a desperate attempt to communicate his suffering to the thugs who had terrorized him and to the regime they represented—to show them, by making it painfully clear on the outside, exactly what they had done to him on the inside.



By the look of Ben Ali’s expressionless face as he stood in front of the cameras in Bouazizi’s hospital room, it seemed that the young man’s tragic protest had barely registered with the autocrat. But for the Tunisian people, a nerve was struck, and the message had resonated loud and clear: enough. A short time later Ben Ali was on a plane to Saudi Arabia, and a collective shudder went up in the halls of leadership throughout the Arab world. But what happened between Bouazizi’s self-immolation on December 17th, his tragic death on January 4th, and Ben Ali’s previously inconceivable departure on January 14th? One can speculate about complex sets of factors, about timing, about Ben Ali’s mismanagement of the situation, about foreign manipulation, and so on, but I want to believe that the truth is far simpler: that the Tunisian people heard Bouazizi’s cries, and that they decided to fight for him. And once they did—once they began to unite, to organize and to resist—the paper tiger began to crumble. This is precisely why Ben Ali and his family fled Tunisia within such a short time after 23 long years in power, and why the supposedly indomitable Mubarak regime, even with the continued support of the most powerful nation in the world, now finds its back against a wall, confronted by a people who will no longer tolerate the status quo.

In the meantime, the question on everyone’s lips has been: where will it happen next? This is a crucial point that must be emphasized—the question itself has changed fundamentally. No longer can we speak of if and how, now the only valid questions are where and when. The events of Tunisia and Egypt represent a monumental paradigm shift in the politics of the Arab world, from which there is no turning back: what once seemed impossible we can no longer deny is possible. It follows that we have only ourselves to blame for our own inaction. Rulers can only govern with the consent of the ruled—whether tacit or explicit—and this they often achieve through coercion and violence, through the instillation of fear and apathy, and through the creation of illusions: illusions of strength, illusions of indestructibility, and above all, illusions of futility and hopelessness. The latter is the deadliest weapon at a tyrant’s disposal, and represents the most effective way of consolidating and maintaining power over the longterm.

In commemoration of the tragic events of February 17th, 1987, and of the events of February 17th, 2006 in which 18 demonstrators, mostly youth, were killed and at least 700 others arrested, many Libyans are calling for a day of peaceful protest this February 17th in cities throughout the country. The Gaddafi regime has responded to these calls with a campaign of fear, rounding up over a hundred community leaders, activists, bloggers, and tribal leaders in the city of Benghazi and threatening them with retaliation should they decide to take part in the planned demonstrations. Moreover, he has vowed to punish entire families if even one member joins in the day of commemoration.

In Tripoli, Gaddafi is taking a different tack; there, his local Revolutionary Committee (lajna thawriyya) is encouraging people to protest and even organized a protest of its own in front of a local Chapter of the General People’s Congress (lajna sha’biyya) during which it called for the people to rise up against the current Prime Minister, Baghdadi Mahmudi. It is unclear whether Gaddafi is trying to co-opt the demonstrations (to make them his own personal thawra as he has made everything in Libya over the past 40 years) and redirect them against anyone but himself (including his own Prime Minister who he didn’t hesitate to throw under the bus), or whether he is simply making a mockery of the calls for protest. What is clear is that the autocrat, after witnessing what happened to the neighbor to his west and what is now happening to the neighbor to his east, is taking every preemptive measure he can to prevent the Libyan people from gathering on the streets in opposition to him.

It is no coincidence that Gaddafi’s foremost concern throughout his four decades of rule has been the dismantling and prevention of even the most rudimentary forms of organization and civil society in Libya. Like all seasoned dictators, he understands very well that the main advantage his people have against him and his comparatively small circle of thugs is strength in numbers. Destroy the people’s ability to unite and to organize, and a country of millions is reduced to an atomized collection of isolated individuals standing alone before one man and his well-armed security apparatus. This was precisely the situation in Tunisia, until Bouazizi’s self-sacrifice shocked a weary nation into rising up and overthrowing a dictator; and this was precisely the situation in Egypt, until the Tunisian uprising showed Egyptians for the first time in decades that they could take control of their political future. Gaddafi knows this, and he is terrified of it.

No one has the right to chastise the Libyan people if they do not descend onto the streets en masse on February 17th—if they choose not to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones—and I cannot in good conscience ask such a thing when I live in a country where, only a few days ago, I marched with thousands of people through the streets of its largest city, in solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia, with no threat to my safety whatsoever, and my right to protest protected by a constitution. This, despite the fact that I have never been so ashamed of my government for its hypocritical, cowardly and unprincipled response to the peaceful uprising in Egypt, even after our current president campaigned on a platform of “hope and change,” taking his lofty message to the Egyptian people nineteen months ago when he lectured them on democracy and his commitment to “governments…that reflect the will of the people.”

February 17th, 1987 and February 17th, 2006 were terrible days in Libyan history, but they were by no means unusual. It would be a mistake to say that Gaddafi has spilled the blood of the Libyan people as if it were water, because even water is a precious thing in Libya. His regime has destroyed a nation once brimming with potential; deprived generations of education, opportunity and hope; dragged a people’s name through the mud along with his own and those of his pathetic children. The Gaddafis and their cronies are the most shameless, the most backward, the lowest of Libya; the weakest of character and the least deserving of honor, respect or fear, let alone sovereignty. And I have no doubt that they are also the most fearful and the most cowardly; such people know only violence, intimidation and displays of brutality; they know nothing of courage or strength, and when confronted with a real threat, their fear becomes even more manifest in their abhorrent actions.

Click to play Ibn Thabit - Al-So'aal (The Question)


I have written before—and I still believe—that only the Libyan people can change their present condition, and only the Libyan people can decide when the time is right to do so. But it is my fervent hope that we all learn from the courageous examples of our Tunisian and Egyptian brothers and sisters, that we recognize that the question is no longer, “can it be done?” but, “when will we do it?”. When a large enough number of Libyans resolves to unite and organize around a common purpose; when they study and draw from the successes of their neighbors to the west and to the east; when they rise above the divisive and violent tactics of a tyrant; when they tire of being constantly lied to, condescended to, and mocked by an individual who seems to revel in insulting their intelligence; when they reject fear and apathy; when they reaffirm their sense of agency; and when they decide that the potential gains are worth the almost certain losses, then their own paper tiger will have no choice but to crumble. The great Tunisian poet Abul Qasim al-Shabi, like Muhammad Bouazizi, was only in his mid-twenties when he died in 1934, but over 75 years later his poetry lives on: its message, eerily prophetic; its words resurrected on the lips of countless hopeful, joyful people over the past weeks and months. His words ring truer with every passing day, and I never tire of hearing them: If, one day, a people desires to live, then fate must answer their call. Whatever happens this February 17th, I will continue to be proud of the Libyan people, and I pray that they never tire of hearing al-Shabi’s words either.

Contributed by Najla Abdurrahman (http://enoughgaddafi.com/?p=431)

Good luck to any people who want to find and fight for their freedom. Do what it takes to get it. Der balak alaa halak


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Live Blogging the Grammys!


Friday, February 11, 2011

I saw hungry brothers waiting with the radio on

It is a divine pleasure to listen to music that seems to raise music itself to a new standard. Music that creates for you an atmosphere of both tranquility and of surprise. There is experimentation in this music that coexists with the subtle, traditional use of percussion and guitar.

Samuel Beam is Iron & Wine, along with a sometimes- 8-piece band that accompanies him. Name the festival, and they have probably performed there. (Sasquatch coming up!) He has collaborated with a handful of interesting indie bands (The Postal Service, Calexico). His music has been added to the soundtrack of popular television dramas and a movie (thatwhichshan'tbenamed). Beam is an extremely rounded artist, with a background in filmmaking and painting.
In turn, the result of Sam Beam's vision is a wonderfully complete album. Time and time again. The relief that comes from enjoying an album full of various musical contributions that hasn't hit you over the head with its efforts. It's beautiful.
Iron & Wine released its fourth studio album, Kiss Each Other Clean, on January 25. There have been multiple EPs since the first was released in 2002. Over the years it seems that somewhere in the review of each project you will find the words "best yet." When you're multi-talented in this way, and open to learning various ways of making music, there is no other end-product to be expected than excellence in this way.

The opening track on the album always gripped me in a way I couldn't describe, right when I first started listening to the album. But today, "Walking Far From Home" just sounds different to me. The first image I saw online early, early this morning was of the massive demonstration crowding the Parliament in Tahrir Square as Egyptians urged the sitting government to exit. It was an astonishing, inspiring photo with the headline "Military Backs Mubarak As Fury Grows." I prayed this morning; I prayed that this crowd would be blessed.

Click to Enjoy Iron & Wine - Walking Far From Home

And hours later, the new headline reads "This is a New Egypt!"

After watching the country fight for a transition of power over the last two weeks, hearing this song now feels like a story that someone who has seen great change could tell. With subtlety.

"It's the greatest day of my life," opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei told NPR. "I could never have imagined that I would live long enough to see Egypt emancipated. It's an electrifying feeling."

Music can define a moment for you. Iron & Wine has the ability to define just about every moment.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Revolution


I am not sure if you guys are aware, but there's a pretty big series of events unfolding in Egypt. It certainly smacks of the word revolution. However, there are a lot that either haven't heard much at all or only a little about it. Sad, eh? That's the country we live in, folks. Where the halftime show for the Super Bowl - featuring what I called an embarrassment to Daft Punk fans everywhere - causes more of a controversy and sparks more debate than what an estimated 80 million people have to deal with on a daily basis. With a man we've supported, albeit in very private fashion, no less. Our tenuous support of Hosni Mubarak stems in large part from our dealings with Israel, so no doubt they're keeping a close eye on this, also.

Well, regardless of what happens, this has become the biggest story in the world - and affected my travel plans. So hey, I'm providing much of a revolution of my own when it comes to fighting shady travel companies. Honestly? I'm pretty worried about the events unfolding. It has more of an impact on the world as a whole than I think people realize. It's more of a trickle down effect, though. That entire region is unstable. From Sudan - which recently saw South Sudan vote to secede - to Tunisia, Jordan, and Yemen. What we're witnessing is unprecedented in history. It could have long lasting ramifications with world relations. A revolution is what it truly is.

Click to Play The Beatles - Revolution

I could honestly go on and on about what is happening, but this story has so many layers and complexities to it, that I simply don't have the room to discuss it. So enjoy your week, folks. And do try to pay attention to what's happening in your world!

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's been a long time since we drove your Pontiac

Cake's new album
I waited so patiently for 4 years for a new Cake album. I've really loved their whole discography from 1994's Motorcade of Generosity to the B-Sides & Rarities compilation album that came out in 2007. I love the dry, almost spoken, delivery of frontman John McCrea's singing. I love Vince DiForce's addition of trumpet and keyboards to the music. I love that the music is witty and fun.

In 2008 the band decided to remove Cake's studio from the dependence of California's electricity grid and go 100% solar. This must make recording only possible in for a few hours during the day, since it took another 3 years for them to release their next album titled Showroom of Compassion. Released it is though, on January 11, 2011 to a NUMBER 1 spot on the Billboard charts! Wow! That must feel great to have your "comeback" record receive such praise. Except that it will own this distinction with an asterisk. You see, it broke a record for being a number 1 album with the lowest sales in history. 44,000 albums was all it took to secure a number one spot that week. That's 2,000,000 less than the biggest opening week an album has had according to Billboard. (N-Sync March 2000).

Showroom of Compassion, even after all the hype, ends up being somewhat uninspired. I'll showcase this by sharing a great song and a song that I call the Taco Bell of the record. More filler than beef.

Let's start with the waste so we can end on a good note.

The opening track on SOC almost made me turn the CD player off. What garbage is this? The song is called "Federal Funding" and the lyrics, the music... all just amazingly boring. The big instrumental finish of the track saves it a bit, but it's my opinion it could have been left off the album altogether.

Click to play Cake - Federal Funding

John McCrea Noel Vasquez,Getty Images
The best track on the album, ends up being what should have been the opener. Track 2 is called "Long Time" and that's the opening track title for a "comeback" album. Maybe Cake, like LL Cool J, doesn't want us to "call it a comeback". I call it like I see it, and this is the perfect opener. "Long Time" is the track that will crystallize the experience of the rest of the album. It has all the Cake-like elements of greatness. The distinctive talky-singing, the bass slap, the jittery guitar riffs, the trumpet, the synth keyboards, ticking clock sounds, a glockenspiel. It's all here.

Click to play Cake - Long Time

It's been a long time
Since we tripped into this ditch
It's been a long time
Since we drank the a-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-arsenic

Isn't that a great Cake song? Makes me want to see them live again. It's been a long time since I have seen the band Cake on tour. I'm hoping for a tour stop near enough for me to see them again. One thing I am sure hasn't changed is the great live show Cake is known for.

Amazon has the album on sale right now...only $7.99! If you are a Cake fan, you need this one for your collection, and at that price I don't think you should pass it up!

Need more of a push to buy the album? Check out the new video for the official first single from the album.



Still not sold on it? Go ahead and steal it, but I think you have to like them on facebook and listen to them pontificate about politics and the environment. That's a fair deal...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

twilight, sans sparkly vampires

ser·en·dip·i·ty –noun

1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first job she applied for.

I've been working my tail off trying to get an advance copy of PJ Harvey's new record, Let England Shake . That has yet to come to fruition, but I happened across something just as exciting along the way: the upcoming Twilight Singers release. It's called Dynamite Steps . Here's the title track:

Click to play The Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps

For those of you not familiar with The Twilight Singers, let me give you a quick history lesson. The group was originally formed as a side project by Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli. The lineup has changed quite a bit over the years, but Dulli has a way of pulling things together and making the sound cohesive and epic.

I'm a die-hard Afghan Whigs (RIP) fan to this day but I've never had any complaints about what Greg Dulli lends his talent to, whether it's The Twilight Singers, The Gutter Twins, or any of his other asides. This new album manages to capture an array of styles we've seen from past projects, yet gives us some nice new twists. There's the intensity and raw rock of the Afghan Whigs, the melancholy beauty of previous Twilight Singers albums, and Dulli can never quite escape his soul/Motown roots, but there's still something special and unique about how it's put together.

I'll leave you with a couple more tracks. I need to get back to my quest for Miss Harvey's new album, but I'll have Dynamite Steps on in the background the whole time.

The album hits stores February 15th. Be sure to grab your copy then.

Click to play The Twilight Singers - Gunshots

Click to play The Twilight Singers - Get Lucky

Friday, February 4, 2011

All I know is you / No I can't change

I had just barely gotten into their last album when I heard a new one was being released. The Joy Formidable is a Welsh band who has been together since 2007. They released single after single in the subsequent years until putting them together on A Balloon Called Moaning in 2009. Well, 2009 in the UK. We didn't get it in the States until May 2010. Seriously.

I really like each track on that album. Whether or not they were meant to be connected, they all sound simultaneously somber and energetic. I'm good with that. You know what's interesting, is that their original label for this EP was none other than Black Bell, which is run by Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy. Huh. Yeah. I get that too.

Here. Listen to maybe my favorite track on Balloon, "Whirring".

Click to The Joy Formidable - Whirring

So, here we have Ritzy Bryan leading us on vocals whilst strumming her guitar, Rhydian Dafydd on bass, and Matt Thomas on drums and other forms of percussion.

I love this sound and I can't even understand half the lyrics.

I guess sometimes communication isn't entirely important.


Well, wait.  Until you start banging things and yelling and being offensive.  I mean, that is communication but it's not effective.  That's how their full-length album starts out.  Noise.  Just, noise.  I should get the art angle they are going for.  I should be open to receive the music language they are speaking.  But, I'm not.  Oh well.

So, this full-length album came out in the UK last week, but - you guessed it.  NOT AVAILABLE IN THE STATES YET! So consider yourself lucky that I am sharing it with you now. Well, unless you are already reading this from across the pond. Then, chap, how about if you leave us a comment about their show this evening? Or head over to one of their upcoming shows... Glasgow King Tuts on Sunday, Edinburgh Electric Circus on Monday, wow... I am checking their tour dates and there are some cool venue names. Add that to the list. Go to indie performances in London.

And bring a sandwich.

I digress.

I mean because of the food.

No, but seriously. I digress.

After we get through the banging and clanging at the beginning of The Big Roar, we are right back into big, lovely sounds. This album was recorded with Camelback Music, which married Atlantic in late 2009 and operates on a "less is more" mentality.

Kind of how these three manage to make themselves sound like an entire Cricket team. Wait, how big is a Cricket team after all, mate? Big enough to at times sound like a choir is chanting the barely audible yet still powerful lyrics and a drum section is pounding out that percussion. Seriously.

Here. See what I mean.

Click to The Joy Formidable - The Magnifying Glass

Then check amazon.co.uk and see if you can get a hold of this year's next year's album!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Beauty of Music


So recently, I found out about a band that I didn't know of. And this led me to be reminded why music is so important. I overheard a new co-worker discussing Grizzly Bear with another co-worker. I interjected, as I had seen them live once. Five minutes of music discussion later, I got a nice compliment - "Man, you really know your shit." Thing is, I don't. Or at least I don't think so. He brought up the group I am sharing today, and I hadn't heard of them. Well, after a good night out with a few co-workers, we all eventually took a listen to these guys. Which I think we all do from time to time. We get excited about the music we like and want to share it with the world. I mean, isn't that the whole point of this blog?

Anyhow, the group he wanted to share was Caravan Palace. Now, they're a French band. Imagine if swing and electronica had a baby. There are some that try to say that Daft Punk is one of those influences on them, but i don't hear it in the music they play. I'd say more with the idea that electronica can be incorporated into almost anything. This sound has been done before, though. As George could tell you, for example, I played a ton of swing-house in the years I DJed. I genuinely liked a lot of it. I even featured one of the Greens Keepers tracks on this blog a couple of years ago.

Well, these guys are less about sampling, and more about creating their own swing sound mixed with drum kicks and electronic goodness. The self-titled debut album of these guys produced the track I'm posting today. "Jolie Coquine" is definitely reminiscent of the Squirrel Nut Zippers female vocals - which is where James Curd sampled from - and is very frenetic and catchy. The video for this track is even quite creative. So enjoy! And remember that music is a very open showcase. You're welcome to dislike music, but keeping an open mind about what is out there is very rewarding!



Click to Play Caravan Palace - Jolie Coquine