Sunday, June 04, 2006

Its been a while...

So its been about a month since I last posted here but I'm going to start it back up soon so stay tuned...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Few More Updizzates

So um...first off, I didn't get Radiohead tickets for either of the New York shows and neither did about 12 other people I have talked to, this is lame. These things are going on eBay for like 500 bucks a piece right now but there is really no use in bitching about scalpers. Anyway, gonna be on the lookout for some decent priced tickets.

Second, didn't get any tickets to Sonic Youth at CBGB's but this was expected as only 200 tickets were released for this show.

Grant Mclennan of the Go-Betweens died today at the age of 48. Very sad news from the Australian Band. Read the full story here.

Prefuse 73 and Edan (picture above) kicked off a tour recently, I highly reccomend checking this tour out because both of these acts are incredible hip-hop/electronic/whatever awesome music. Here are the dates.

05-04 Boston, MA - Paradise
05-05 Northampton, MA - Pearl Street Nightclub
05-06 Providence, RI - The Living Room
05-07 Brooklyn, NY - South Paw
05-09 Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
05-10 Columbus, OH - Wexner Center at Ohio University
05-12 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
05-13 Milwaukee, WI - Stonefly Brewery
05-14 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Club
05-17 Seattle, WA - Chop Suey
05-18 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
05-19 Eugene, OR - WOW Hall
05-20 San Francisco, CA - Mezzanine
05-21 Los Angeles, CA - Knitting Factory
05-22 Los Angeles, CA - Knitting Factory
05-23 San Diego, CA - Casbah
05-24 Phoenix, AZ - Old Brickhouse
05-26 Denton, TX - Hailey's
05-27 Austin, TX - The Parish
05-28 Houston, TX - Walters on Washington
05-29 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
05-30 Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
05-31 Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle Tavern
06-01 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
06-02 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church Sanctuary
06-03 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom

Prefuse 73 is also playing a show at Central Park Summerstage sans Edan on August 13.

Other news, Rolling Stone celbrated its 1000th issue with a party last week. It sounded pretty cool, but most importantly, it featured a collaboration between Lou Reed and the Strokes doing Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side"...bad ass.

Thats about it, and sell me your Radiohead tickets.

Thanks.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Some News...

Ok some news to report, in case you didn't catch it.

Radiohead US Tour Announced:

06-01 Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theatre $
06-02 Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theatre $
06-04 Boston, MA - Bank of America Pavilion $
06-05 Boston, MA - Bank of America Pavilion $
06-07 Toronto, Ontario - Hummingbird Center $
06-08 Toronto, Ontario - Hummingbird Center $
06-10 Montreal, Quebec - Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts *
06-11 Montreal, Quebec - Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts *
06-13 New York, NY - The Theatre at Madison Square Garden *
06-14 New York, NY - The Theatre at Madison Square Garden *
06-19 Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theatre *
06-20 Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theatre *
06-23 Berkeley, CA - Greek Theater #
06-24 Berkeley, CA - Greek Theater #
06-26 San Diego, CA - Bayside #
06-27 San Diego, CA - Bayside #
06-29 Los Angeles, CA - Greek Theater #
06-30 Los Angeles, CA - Greek Theater #

$ with Willy Mason
* with the Black Keys
# with Deerhoof

As you can see, some great support from Willy Mason, Black Keys, and Deer Hoof. Tickets on sale May 3 and 5th depending on date, check ticketmaster etc. these things are going to sell out in seconds.

Wilco announced another tour not to recently as well:

06-28 Calgary, Alberta - McEwan Hall
06-29 Edmonton, Alberta - Jubilee Auditorium
07-01 Winnipeg, Manitoba - Burton Cummings Theatre
07-02 Duluth, MN - Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
07-07 Toronto, Ontario - Massey Hall
07-08 London, Ontario - Centennial Hall
07-10 Montreal, Quebec - Metropolis
07-12 Halifax, Nova Scotia - Alderney Landing
07-13 Fredericton, New Brunswick - Playhouse
07-16 Florence, MA - Pines Theater
08-06 Chicago, IL - Grant Park (Lollapalooza)

Finally Sonic Youth added more dates to their summer tour:

06-13 New York, NY - CBGB *
06-14 Philadelphia, PA - Starlight Ballroom &
06-15 Washington, D.C. - 9:30 Club &
06-17 Asheville, NC - Orange Peel &
06-18 Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo &$
06-19 Atlanta, GA - Earthlink Live &
06-21 Tulsa, OK - Cain's Ballroom
06-23 Austin, TX - Stubb's BBQ +
06-24 Dallas, TX - Gypsy Ballroom +
06-26 Lawrence, KS - Liberty Hall +
06-27 Denver, CO - Gothic Theatre +
06-29 Missoula, MT - UM Theatre +
06-30 Seattle, WA - Moore Theatre +
07-03 Sacramento, CA - Empire +
07-04 Reno, NV - Reno Hilton +
07-06 Las Vegas, NV - MGM Grand %
07-07 San Diego, CA - Cox Arena %
07-09 Los Angeles, CA - Forum %
07-10 Los Angeles, CA - Forum %
07-13 Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl %
07-16 San Francisco, CA - Bill Graham Civic Auditorium %
07-18 San Francisco, CA - Bill Graham Civic Auditorium %
07-22 Byron Bay, Australia - Splendour in the Grass Festival #
07-24 Melbourne, Australia - Palace
07-26 Sydney, Australia - Enmore
07-29 Yuzawa-machi, Japan - Naeba Ski Resort (Fuji Rock Festival)
08-03 Cuyahoga Falls, OH - Blossom Music Center (92.3 K-ROCK Presents Kuyahoga)
08-05 Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza ^
12-08-10 Somerset, England - Butlins Minehead (ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas) !

* with Tall Firs
& with Be Your Own Pet
$ with Radiohead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Beck, Elvis Costello, Cat Power, more
+ with Awesome Color
% with Pearl Jam
# with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Brian Wilson, TV on the Radio, more
^ with the Flaming Lips, Kanye West, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, the Raconteurs, Queens of the Stone Age, the Shins, the Go! Team, Sleater-Kinney, the New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Built to Spill, Gnarls Barkley, Feist, Iron & Wine, Ryan Adams, Andrew Bird, Common, more
! with Iggy & the Stooges, Bardo Pond, Six Organs of Admittance, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Charlambides, My Cat Is an Alien, the Skaters

I hope to check out all of these tours this summer, hopefully these tickets aren't going on ebay for 100s but I'm sure they will.

Upcoming record releases:

Today:
Tool - 10,000 Days
Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam
Gomez - How We Operate
Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

While I didn't buy any of these, Gnarls Barkley is getting a lot of buzz and Gomez might be good, no comment on Pearl Jam and Tool.

May 9:
Neil Young - Living With War
Grandaddy - Just Like the Fambly Cat
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast
Paul Simon - Surprise

New Neil Young album is awesome, a great rock record that bashes Bush, what more can you ask for? I am also looking foward to Paul Simon's Brian Eno produced effort, its a weird combo but I heard 3 tracks and they are actually really good, this may be the surprise (no pun intended) record of the season, I predict a strong score from pitchfork for some hipster sales boosts. Matmos and Grandaddy albums should be interesting and Red Hot Chilli Peppers is probably going to be horrendous as is there debut single off of the record "Dani California."

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass

So it's been a while since I posted anything so I figured I'd do a review of some random record that I have been listening to lately. I recently picked up the Jayhawk's Tomorrow the Green Grass and am really liking it so I figured why not. Tomorrow the Green Grass is, to my knowledge, the Jayhawk's best work. It is the band's fourth album and the follow up to 1992's "critically acclaimed" Hollywood Town Hall. While I love Hollywood Town Hall, Tomorrow the Green Grass is in no way a departure but simply an improvement on that record. Tomorrow the Green Grass finds songwriters Gary Louris and Mark Olson at the top of their game. The record has a very folksy feel, in terms of lyrics, that shines through on cuts like "Miss. William's Guitar," and "Ann Jane" while musically the album captures the bands signature dirty country rock sound. As musicians, the Jayhawks aren't anything special and most of the arrangements (drums, guitar, piano, bass, vocals) are pretty standard, but there are some well placed progressions as well as melodies and harmonies that make up for the lackluster musicianship. Harmonies in particular are what make this band stand out in my mind. On the choruses of upbeat songs like "Blue" and the verses of slower ballad type songs such as "Two Hearts" the Louris-Olson harmonies create and very specific sound that is rather unique to the band. In general, this album seems to have a very reminiscent (I'm not sure if that’s the right word to use) quality which is highlighted on tracks such as "Over My Shoulder", as in, it looks back on a troubled past, hoping for happiness in the future, as suggest by the record's title, Tomorrow the Green Grass. The record is great mix of upbeat, midtempo, and ballad type songs and as I said early, the Jawhawks aren't the best musicians (certainly not bad ones though) but they are excellent songwriters and that is apparent on this very solid, album, an album that will certainly keep the listeners attention from start to finish.Thats it, sorry for the short review, more to come soon.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Strokes - 4/25/06 - Agganis Arena - Boston

So last night I saw the Strokes over at Agganis Arena (Boston University's Hockey Rink/Concert Venue) and it was, too say the least, an incredible show. The opening band was a band called Sean Na Na which I later realized featured Sean (Har Mar Superstar) Tillman. We didn't catch them but from what I gathered, we didn't miss too much. Anyways, the Strokes came on a little bit after 9 and opened with their latest single, "Heart In A Cage" which is not my favorite song off the new record (First Impressions of Earth) but was still an awesome opener. The band then played two more tracks from First Impressions, "Red Light" and the album’s leadoff single, "Juicebox" before busting into my personal favorite Strokes song, "The End Has No End." The band rounded out the first half of the set with a few more cuts from their new album and one or two from their second record Room on Fire before going into some songs off of their first album, Is This It. Now, I’ll go on the record and say that my favorite Strokes record is without a doubt Room on Fire, but hearing all of those songs off the first album in a live setting really brought them into a whole new light for me. The band played a seven song batch of tunes, 6 of which were off of Is This It and it was by far the highlight of the show for me. "Is This It," "Someday," "Alone, Together," and "Hard to Explain" were all absolutely incredible. During that seven song group, the lone song not from Is This It was "Under Control," a Room on Fire song in which Sean Tillman, of Sean Na Na (and Har Mar Superstar) came on and did a duet with Julian. While he completely butchered an awesome song with his squeaky little voice, him and Julian seemed to be having a great time together so I guess it was alright. The band rounded out the set main set with "Ask Me Anything" (the song of First Impressions that features Julian on vocals backed only by Nick playing a Mellotron, a weird keyboard-type instrument), "Reptilia," and my favorite new song, "Vision of Division." After a quick break the band came on for a three song encore featuring "New York City Cops" (a song off of the UK version of Is This It), "Is This It," and "Take It or Leave It." I don't really get the big deal with "New York City Cops," I think its one of their worst songs but it always seems to be a favorite of hardcore Strokes fans, I guess its because it’s a rarity? The set overall was fantastic, all of the best cuts from First Impressions, and highlights from the band's back catalogue including almost all of Is This It, which like I said, translates into a live setting perfectly. My only complaints are that they missed a lot of great tunes off of Room on Fire, most notably "Whatever Happened?" "Meet Me in the Bathroom," and "You Talk Way Too Much," but what can you do. Musically the band was tight as can be, all of the parts were spot on including some amazing guitar work from both Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valenci. To be honest coming into the show I was wondering how well they would be able to play some of those blistering solos, especially from the new record but everything was played perfectly. Another part of the show I was really impressed with was the lighting, lots of colors and flashes and strobes and what not gave a lot of emphasis to the songs, especially during the particularly intense moments. Julian seemed to be in a great mood and was very appreciative of the crowd who in my opinion seemed to be very into the show and singing along pretty loud all the way through. My biggest complaint about this show was again, the sound. Being at Agganis, everything tends to jumble together by the time it hits your ears and I also though that Albert's guitar was pretty low at some points but other than that a fantastic show. The Strokes are an awesome live band at the top of their game (despite what you may think about First Impressions) if you can see them live, do so you won't regret it. They are a real rock band with an extremely solid catalogue, I can't think of a setlist they could possibly compile that I wouldn't enjoy.

Here is the setlist from the show:

Heart In A Cage
Red Light
Juicebox
The End Has No End
You Only Live Once
12:51
Ize Of The World
Trying Your Luck
Electricityscape
Someday
Alone, Together
Under Control (With Har Mar)
Last Nite
Hard To Explain
Soma
Barely Legal
Ask Me Anything
Vision Of Division
Reptilia
----------------------
New York City Cops
Is This It
Take It Or Leave It

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped

Sonic Youth have been around for a long time. 25 years to be exact. Over the span of their career they have created a lot of music that was the first of its kind, foregoing traditional rock and roll and creating a new kind of noise-driven rock. For some listeners, including myself, a lot of Sonic Youth's earlier stuff is too noisy and “out-there” to be listenable. Granted a lot of early Sonic Youth songs are awesome songs and you can't deny the importance of records like EVOL and Daydream Nation but for the casual Youth fan, sometimes they can become too much. For this reason, when the band released more accessible albums such as Murray Street and Sonic Nurse, fans like me had something to be excited about. These records featured the blistering guitar work and unconventional song structure made famous on classic Sonic Youth records but with a little less noise, and a little less general "weirdness." Rather Ripped the band's latest effort continues in this light despite the loss of member (and one of my personal favorite musicians) Jim O'Rourke, who joined the band for its previous two records. The album, which is to be released this June (I think 13th, but I'm not sure), is one of the bands most solid efforts to date. The record opens with a fast (Sonic Youth style of course) pop-rock track called "Reena" with Kim Gordon on lead vocals. While I am not a fan of Kim singing (I think she has a horrendous voice) the production on this track is so good that Kim actually sounds like the right voice for this tune. The guitar work on the track is awesome lots of heavy picking and riffing but not quite soloing during instrumental breaks sets the mood for what is to be a great SY record. The next tune, "Incinerate" continues in the same fashion, with powerful riffs, and awesome guitar work, this time the vocals come from singer Thurston Moore. After "Incinerate" comes a quite, more ambient track called "Do You Believe In Rapture?" which finds Moore singing "Do you believe in his sweet sensation? Do you believe in a second chance? Do you believe in Rapture babe?" over muted guitar chords and a cymbal roll. A noise jam ensues as the second verse begins and then stops again at the end of the second verse. The song peaks with an instrumental break that features a full drum kit and some great guitar riffs and then come back down to end like it started, with just guitar and cymbals. The record continues on in the vein of the first two songs incorporating a perfect blend, of noise, drums, guitars, and great lyrics to create possibly my favorite Sonic Youth record to date. Now don't get me wrong this record does not lack its moments of screeching feedback and analog sounds derived from who knows what but it also has a lot of the amazing guitar playing that I loved so much on Sonic Nurse. I think it is the playing of guitarists Lee Renaldo and Thurston Moore that make this album so great. Almost all of the standout moments on this record that I can think of come from the perfectly calculated jams found on so many of these songs. While there may not be songs as good as say "New Hampshire" or "Stones" (both off of Sonic Nurse) this record is far more consistent and doesn't really have any bad songs. I highly recommend that any Sonic Youth fans both new and old check this record out, it will certainly not disappoint.

Last.fm Quiz

So me, being a moderate to pretty big loser, saw this thing on ViaChicago about doing a last.fm quiz based on my last.fm charts. So here it is.

List your top 10 artists as played on Last.fm:


1 Wilco
2 Belle and Sebastian
3 Bob Dylan
4 Pavement
5 Silver Jews
6 Velvet Underground
7 Neil Young
8 The Beatles
9 Rilo Kiley
10 The Strokes

Now answer the questions according to the numbers:

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?
Velvet Underground – Heroin would be my guess but I’m not sure.

What is your favourite album of 2?
Belle and Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress

What is your favourite lyric that 5 has sung?
Silver Jews – There are a lot of fucking great Jews lyrics so this is just one of many:

“Lately I’ve come to find, Life is sweeter than Jewish wine. Give a box of candy or a foot massage. Some people don't take the time.”

How many times have you seen 4 live?
Pavement – Unfortunately Never.

What is your favourite song by 7?
Neil Young – My favorite Neil song would be tough I’ll pick “Birds” of AtGR

What is a good memory you have involving the music of 10?
The Strokes - Probably my best memory of the Strokes is hearing their single “Last Night” on the radio for the first time and thinking I need to get this record but then again I am seeing them tomorrow night for the first time so this answer will probably change.

Is there a song by 3 that makes you sad?
Bob Dylan – A few but I always think “Don’t Think Twice its Alright” is a sad song, though one of my favorite Dylan songs.

What is your favourite lyric that 2 has sung?
Belle and Sebastian - Ooh! Get me away from here I'm dying, Play me a song to set me free, Nobody writes them like they used to, So it may as well be me”

What is your favourite song by 9?
Rilo Kiley – “It’s A Hit”

How did you get into 3?
Bob Dylan – My dad used to play Blood on the Tracks when I was young so I guess that would be it.

What was the first song you heard by 1?
Wilco – That’s a tough question I want to say it was Kamera or Radio cure, definitely something off of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

What is your favourite song by 4?
Pavement – Probably “Gold Soundz” but that’s tough.

How many times have you seen 9 live?
Rilo Kiley – Never, but I saw Jenny Lewis solo once.

What is a good memory you have involving 2?
Belle and Sebastian - Seeing them live a few months ago, what a fantastic show New Pornographers opened too.

Is there a song of 8 that makes you sad?
Beatles – There’s a few, most notably “Eleanor Rigby” that seems like an obvious choice though.

What is your favourite album of 5?
Silver Jews – American Water without a doubt.

What is your favourite lyric that 4 has sung?
Pavement – Another band with great lyrics, I’ll go with the following from “Trigger Cut”

“Lies and betrayals, Fruit-covered nails, Electricity and lust won’t break the door, I’ve got a heavy coat- it’s filled with rocks and sand, And if I lose it I’ll be comin’ back today
(I’ve got a message for you), I’ll be comin’ back today, (I keep it in my hand) You know I’m comin’ back one day, (I’ve got a sister or two), And I’ll be comin’ back today”

What is your favourite song of 10?
The Strokes – “Meet Me in the Bathroom

How many times have you seen 8 live?
The Beatles – Ha. Never.

What is your favourite album of 1?
Wilco – My favorite Wilco album? That’s near impossible but its definitely A Ghost is Born, Summer Teeth, or Being There.

What is a great memory you have considering 9?
Rilo Kiley – I guess seeing Jenny Lewis live on St. Pattys day. That was a really great show.

What was the first song you heard by 8?
Beatles – I don’t really know, my first Beatles memory is their cover of “Twist and Shout.”

What is your favourite cover by 2?
Belle and Sebastian – I have a bootleg with a lot of great covers but I think my favorite would be them covering the Beegee’s “Stayin’ Alive.”

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wilco - Ted Leo/ Rx - OK Go - 4/20/06 - Brown Univ.

So Thursday night, my friend and I went to see my favorite band of all time, Wilco and a few other bands over at Brown University in Providence. And I will start off by saying, despite being in a hockey rink, this was the best of the three (two full band) Wilco shows I have been to.

The night started at around 8:30 when OK Go came on, a sort of pop/indie/punk band that wasn't very good. Besides the fact that the songs weren't very good and the sound was even worse, the lead singer was acting like a prick, strutting around the stage and making ridiculous remarks like he was Mick Jagger or something. At one point he declared "Um...last time I was at uh, Brown, I was um...drunk" this received a swell of cheers and squeals from the frat boys but alas, their eight song set was over and it was time for the band to leave. Before they left though, they did their "famous" dance routine, from their latest music video which was admittedly, hilarious. A few Brown students who knew the dance came on stage and did it with them. If you haven't seen the video, you can check it out here: YouTube.

Next up was Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. A band that I am slightly familiar with. Ted was pretty good but like the band before him was suffering from some big sound issues. His guitar was a little to quiet and his voice was completely drowned out by the rest of the band. Beyond that Ted has some great pop/punk type songs. I was very impressed with his ability to play some pretty complicated rhythms and sing at the same time. His band was very tight too, the drummer was really going at it and the bassist was a great player as well. I recognized a good deal of the songs so I'm pretty sure the majority of his set came from Shake the Sheets and Tyranny of Distance, the only two Ted Leo albums I have heard. He also played one new song which was pretty catchy, but in no way a departure from his signature indie-pop (with a hint of punk) sound. From what I can tell, Ted might be the nicest guy in the world, he seemed to be in a good mood as he was very talky and appreciative of the crowd.

After one bad and one good opener, 10:30 rolled by, and it was Wilco time. The band came on and busted right into "A Future Age" a beautiful song off of their third album Summerteeth (which I am actually listening to right now) that is a major rarity. The song has only been played live 27 times, and most of those times were at Jeff Tweedy solo shows so to hear it at a college show, full band, as a set opener, was a real treat. From that moment on, you could tell that this was going to be a spectacular show. The band then played some amazing versions of some of their best songs including highlights from all of their albums (except their debut A.M.). Highlights of the set included almost all of the tracks off of A Ghost is Born: "At Least That's What You Said," "Hell is Chrome," "Theologians," "Hummingbird," "Spiders," and "Handshake Drugs" were all absolutely spellbinding. The guitar work on almost all of those tunes from Jeff and more notably guitarist Nels Cline is just mind blowing. During some parts Nels was playing his Fender Jazzmaster with a power drill and some really interesting sounds were coming out. His jazzy little licks on "Handshake Drugs" really transform that song into a mediocre song (for Wilco at least) into an truly amazing live tune. The band also played one new song, "Walken," a country-rocker that recalls some of the bands earlier work. While it wasn't that great of the song, it was a fun rocker, I just hope it doesn't show up on their new album (which right now is slated for a Spring '07 release). The band also played some highlights from its back catalogue including "Via Chicago" (complete with a beautiful noise-jam), "Forget the Flowers," "War on War," and "I'm Always in Love." Throughout the course of the show Jeff seemed to be in a great mood, and he was not as talkative as usual (which I have learned means that the show is going above average). The crowd, which was mostly Brown U. college kids, seemed very impressed with Wilco's show even thought they may not have been to familar with the material. To my surprise there was very little pot at the show (I say this only because it was 4/20). It was great to hear the crowd scream chants of "WILCO WILCO WILCO" after every set break, I think there were definitely some Wilco converts in the crowd that night. After a grueling set, the band closed their main set (which ran a full 80 minutes) with "The Late Greats," a fun rocker from A Ghost is Born.

After a quick break the band came out for their first encore into what Jeff called the "arena rock portion of the show" which featured "Heavy Metal Drummer," "Kingpin" (which featured the awkward "livin' in...Providence" lyric). After those two songs, we got a bit of a surprise, a trio of Brown horn players (trombone, sax, and trumpet) came out for two songs and played the horn parts on "Monday" and "I'm the Man Who Loves You." Which were both incredible. After that the band took another break and finally came out for one final encore playing "Misunderstood" (one of my favorite Wilco songs both live and on record, this time it featured 32 "Nothings" impressive, but not as good as the 40 we had in June at Boston U.) and finally "I'm A Wheel" which saw guitarist/keyboard player Pat Sansone's signature windmills.

Overall this was an amazing show, the sound problems of the first two bands seemed to dissipate when Wilco came on. The band was so incredibly tight that the setlist (which hasn't really changed much since the band starting touring on A Ghost is Born in spring of 2004) wasn't really an issue at all. The band is continuously updating the songs so that each show is a fresh experience, even for the seasoned Wilco fan. So far this was the best concert I've seen this year and it has really affirmed my beliefs that Wilco is the best band out there right now.

For those who are interested here Wilco's set list:

In a Future Age
I am Trying to Break Your Heart
A Shot in the Arm
At Least that's What You Said
Hell is Chrome
Handshake Drugs
War on War
Jesus, etc
Via Chicago
Forget the Flowers
Walken
Theologians
Spiders
I'm Always in Love
Hummingbird
The Late Greats
---------------------
Heavy Metal Drummer
Kingpin
I'm the Man Who Loves You (w/Brown U. horns)
Monday (w/Brown U. horns)
-----------------------
Misunderstood
I'm a Wheel

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why Top 40 Music (and Major-Label Music General) Isn’t What It Used to Be

This is an informal opinion type paper I did for one of my music courses, comments are appreciated.

It used to be that having a number one single was something that all recording artists striver for. It was a symbol that you made an incredible record. All of the best artists had number ones. Breaking into the top 40 meant you had made it that you had recorded a top notch song. While today, it is a symbol of success, breaking into the top 40 does not hold the prestige it used to. It by no means signifies the fact that you recorded a great record. To me, breaking the top 40 in today’s market means that your record label paid off enough radio executives to get your (most likely awful) single into heavy rotation on some trashy Clear Channel radio station.

The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” was the top single of the 1960’s spending 9 consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The number two spot was taken by the Rolling Stone’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The top 10 was rounded out by cuts from bands such as The Beach Boys, The Doors, Simon and Garfunkle, and couple more Beatles tunes.

Fast forward four decades to the present day, this week’s (week of 4/10/06) Hot 100 chart is topped by flavor-of-the-week “singer-songwriter” Daniel Powter and his single “Bad Day.” He is followed by rap-reggae artist Sean Paul and his single “Temperature” a reggae infused rap anthem that features the chorus “When woman the weather turn cold I wanna be keepin' you warm, I got the right temperature for shelter you from the storm, Oh lawd, gyal (sic) I got the right tactics to turn you on, and girl I...Wanna be the Papa...You can be the Mom....oh oh!” This week’s top 10 is rounded out by “hits” from artists such as James Blunt, T.I., Dem Franchize Boys, Bubba Sparxxx, and Ne-Yo. So my question is, what happened to top 40 music? Anybody could tell you that Daniel Powter doesn’t have 1/100th of the talent and song writing ability as say the Beatles and it would be hard to argue that Dem Franchize Boys could put out a single that was anywhere near as good as the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.

To me, the pattern is clear, and the fact that artists are staying around for a lot shorter now-a-days simply cannot be argued. Over the course of their career the Rolling Stones had 9 number ones singles in the US, the Beach Boys had 4 number ones but dozens more in the top 40 and the Beatles had a whopping 20 number one singles in the US. This week’s top 10 artists have a combined 7 number one singles, most of which are very recent and only two of them have multiples (Kelly Clarkson, and Mary J. Blige the only two artists that I would consider mildly talented on this week’s list).That being said, why is it that these (mostly) no-name, talentless, one-hit wonder artists are topping today’s charts? In my opinion, it is the fault of the record companies.

It is become clear to me that record labels, especially major record labels, have become less and less interested with building an artist’s career and more and more interested in squeezing one, maybe two big singles out of an artist just to make a quick and easy buck and then just moving on to the next guy in line. “Why would record companies want to do that?” some people may ask, “wouldn’t it be more profitable to build an artists career and get longevity out of them?” The clear answer is no.

First off, most up and coming artists are dying for a record deal and are not very well versed in the business side of the music industry. That means when they will do just about anything to get an opportunity to sign a major label deal and probably aren’t to concerned enough or educated about what the contract actually says. Chances are, the label is going to get a lot more money than they deserve without the artists even realizing until they have gone platinum and are yet to have received a royalty check. On the other hand, a seasoned artist with a few records already released would probably know what to ask for and probably would hire a good lawyer for negotiating record contracts, making more money for themselves and thus less for the label.

Second of all, major labels don’t devote a lot of time to these (what they refer to as) “breakout” artists, after the initial push of the first singles, record companies can let these artists drop off the radar, maybe giving them a chance at a second record if their first album did exceptionally well. Furthermore, while the labels in general have a lot of say as to what gets on the radio and what artists generally get out there, it is up for the people to decide what stays and what goes. While a single from an artist may do well once because of strong label push, it is going to be hard for an untalented group such as say Dem Franchise Boys (I actually did listen to their single “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” and they are indeed, extremely untalented) to have repeat success.

Third of all, we all know that people can download almost anything they want off the internet free of charge and the record labels have done nothing (save for the over-priced iTunes) to embrace this and instead have chosen to fight its customers by taking them to court. You may say that 99 cents a song makes sense and is about what you would pay for a CD in a store. While this is true, selling a CD in a store requires people to ship and distribute the record, it requires people to work at the store, it requires people and materials to physically manufacture the CD, amongst a number of other factors that are all cut out by services such as iTunes but for some reason, the consumers aren’t seeing a dime out of this. It is clear that I have digressed so back to the point. The fact that illegal downloading has become so prevalent also affects the charts. Obviously, if a song is illegally downloaded, it is not going to show up on the charts, which (again, obviously) is part of the reason why record sales in general have been so poor as of late.

In the past, most notably, during the 1960’s and 70’s bands had real staying power. Not only did record labels put more effort into elongating careers of artists but labels searched for bands on the basis of not only commercial appeal, but also talent, and songwriting ability. Some bands would explode and hit the scene immediately (see the Beatles) and in other cases, bands would start on independent labels and then continue their careers on major labels without compromising any artistic integrity (see the Velvet Underground). Other artists, while not having very many number one singles or hit singles at all, still sold platinum on a consistent basis thanks to persistence and effort from a record company (see Bob Dylan, Neil Young). Dylan has been with Columbia (Sony/BMG) for 44 years and Young with Reprise (Warner) for 37 (minus a quick 4-year stint with Geffen during 80’s). I could give you all the statistics in the world but the point is that the record industry just isn’t the same as it used to be and the consumers are suffering because of it. Artists and their art are being given zero consideration because all of the major label’s efforts are going towards making a dollar. The music has been pushed aside, what is important now is image if you can look like a thug (50 Cent) or dance around in near nothing (Britney Spears) than you are set for a little while no matter how awful your music is. While a lot of people buy into these image-based artists, a lot of music fans don’t which is why I believe there will never be another band as big as say the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Making good music just doesn’t come into the picture for most major labels.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Updates


So I have been kind of lazy/busy (more on the lazy side) as of late and haven't had any substantial posts as of late. I am going to try to get things together this week with some reviews and whatnot.

Anyway some good news for NYC-ers. Belle and Sebastian is going to be playing Battery Park on July 4th afternoon for free, which rules, check out Brooklyn Vegan (on my links to the right) for full info about this free NYC concert series that has bunch of other free shows lined up including Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, The Hold Steady, and Dr. John...sick. Wilco is also rumored to be playing a show but the status of that show is unknown. Again check out Brooklyn Vegan for all that info.

In other news, I got a listen of the new Sonic Youth record Rather Ripped and its fucking awesome (althought I am sad to see Jim O'Rourke go) this is one of their most solid records too date, its far more acessable than a lot of their previous records, sort of in the vein of Sonic Nurse and is probably a bummer to reall Sonic Youth purists but I think its great, more info to come on that one. Maybe I will do a full review of that one sometime soon. Comes out sometime in June.

Also, I am doing a sort of informal paper for my music business course called "Why Today's Top 40 Music Blows" (this is a tentative title) and I'll post that tonight or tommorow when I finish it.

If you hadn't noticed, I figured out how to show what I am listening to (who knew I had to go through all that html code? there must be an easier way) so check out the records on the right under "heavy rotation" because they are all awesome and if you don't know what they are, I'll tell you, just ask. Also check out my last.fm (link on right) to show exactly what I am listening to, because chances are my taste in music is better than yours (I am totally kidding).

Thanks to Large Hearted Boy for putting my review of the Death Cab show on his blog, it got me like 550 hits today. Awesome! Check out that blog (again, in links) because it is awesome.

R.I.P. theindieconnection.com, a great site, and more importantly a site that I got a lot of referalls from...ha, so too bad.

Jack White's Coke add came out today. Its a cool song I guess, I don't know why it would make me want to drink more coke, but check it out. You Tube

Anyway thats about it, stay tuned for review of Sonic Youth's Rather Ripped (Awesome), The Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldier (hahahah so bad!) and my informal paper type thing on why top 40 music blows (hopefully awesome maybe not).

And as always with posts where I don't have any real picture to post here is a comic, this one is courtesy of Married to the Sea.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

How am I doing?/arobot.org/ 2000 Visitors

That is a comic (I know you can't read it, click on it for full size) from www.arobot.org (check it out!) a website from a fellow Northeastern U student, his comics are funny and he also has some great artwork, he does posters and stuff for various events and what not...I hope he doesn't sue me for using his shiz without permission. Only time will tell. Anyway this comic was in no way related to the following post:

So I have had this little blog going for about 2 weeks now and I was curious as to how the people who read it think I am doing. Thanks to a lot of referals from other blogs (see links on the right) I have had almost 2000 visitors (1,924) in a relatively short period of time so I know at least a few people are reading it. So anyways, just post a comment and tell me how you think I am doing, what would you like more of? Do you think I am an elitist bastard? How can I make the blog better? Your input is much appreciated. Thanks.

-Jacob

Edit: 2000 Visitors!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ghostface Killah - M1 from Dead Prez - A Likes - Paradise Rock Club - Boston - 4/13/06

So I got free tickets from my radio station (www.wrbbradio.org, listen to my show there Mondays at noon) to go see Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan. Ghostface recently released a new record that I actually quite like (see my review of it down the page a little bit) so my friend and I figured why not check this free show out. Well let me start out by saying that we left this show before Ghostface even came on, it was 11:30, the last opener had just gotten on-stage and we had to make the subway at 12 so we figured "fuck it, lets bounce." But nonetheless, this show was, to say the least, an interesting experience. When my friend Eric and I showed up to the venue the first opener, a rap duo who called themselves A-Likes were about to take the stage. We figured that since the two of us were already sticking out like sore thumbs at this show that we would go up to the balcony and enjoy the show from there, this proved to be good idea, I'll explain that later. Anyway, A-Likes were awful. They didn't really have any good verses, they just seemed to be shouting phrases over and over (most memorably something about lying, cheating, and stealing to be free...I didn't get it) but the crowd in general seemed attentive and into them. The duo repeatedly lead call and responses with the crowd of "FUCK GEORGE BUSH!" and "FUCK THE POLICE!" Now I am no fan of George Bush but this really seemed rediculous to me, I couldn't help but find this hilarious. The duo slopped around onstage for a little more, ranting on how we are all imprisoned, how we are all captive ,and how it is the people versus the president. "HOW MANY OF Y'ALL GOT A FAMILY MEMBER OR A FRIEND LOCKED UP??!?!" one of the rappers asked. An overwhelming majority of the crowd raised their hands. "FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DIDN'T RAISE YOUR HAND YOUR WHACK, CUZ WE IS ALL IMPRISONED!" he screamed as he jumped into the beat of the next one minute track. While I agree with some of their sentiments and give them credit for where they were going with that, they way the presented it (call and response with the crowd, over lame beats) was nothing but humorous to me, but what does the half jewish white guy know? Apparently not too much. A-Likes left the stage at about 10:00 and the next act, a rapper by the name of M1, from the group Dead Prez, didn't show up until about 11:10-11:20. He continued the sentiments of A-likes introducing himself as M1 and requesting that the crowd reply with chants of "FUCK THE POLICE!!" (again). During the course of M1's set, which was almost identical to the set A-Likes put on in terms of lack of actualy rhymes and songs, a few fights broke out on the floor. Bouncers were throwing people out all over the place and this was pretty fun to watch. It got pretty nasty down on the floor which is why I was happy we chose the balcony. During his set, M1 began smoking a giant blunt on stage and suggest that the audience "light up some chronic, that real purple shit" and a good number of people seemed to do just that. The weed smoking soon ended though, as a bouncer went on stage and ripped the blunt from M1's hand. Anyways, halfway through the set Eric and I decided we should leave and that we weren't going to see Ghostface before we had to make the train home. While it was a waste of a perfectly good thursday night, it was certainly an interesting experience. I doubt I will attend another concert like that for a while but I found it to be an interesting insight to the world of live hop. It's a pity we didn't get to see Ghostface (we actually caught a glimpse of him through the front window of his tour bus on our way out) because I love that record ("y'all should cop that shit") but oh well...maybe next time (but probably not).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Death Cab for Cutie/Franz Ferdinand - 4/12 - Agganis Arena - Boston

OK, so I just got back from this show, I know its all "mainstream" and "corporate" and "major label bullshit," at least for most of the music I cover on this blog, but fuck you man, I like these bands so don't judge me. Also, we got tickets for 20 bucks a piece off some scalper, so not a bad deal (face + fees was 42.25), good seats too. Anyway for those who don't know Agganis is Boston University's hockey rink and this was a pretty big show, I think around 8,000. The crowd was awful, I am going to get my rant about that out of the way right now in list form, then we can move on to the music.

Things I Hated About The Crowd at This Show
1. People talking during the entire show, why are you here? why did you pay 45 bucks to chat at a rock concert? Fuck you.
2. People sitting down the entire time, more specifically, a girl who asked me to sit down because she couldn't see, "Its a rock show, I am standing." I replied "But I can't see she said." I shrugged and turned around. I hope she reads this and understand that I think she's a huge loser. Fuck you.
3. People buying T-shirts and then putting them on at the show, over the clothes they wore to the show.
4. People talking on their cell phones (not holding them up so their friends can hear) during the show. Fuck you.
5. 12 year girls showing up with their Moms (I guess this is OK, but why waste the seat, your kid isn't going to get kidnapped or do drugs or whatever at a Death Cab show).
6. Fraterna-Fucks and Sorori-Sluts showing up to the concert because they heard "Death Cab is really good, they are 'under the radar'"
7. People thinking they can sell their tickets outside the show at double face value (we found a nice fellow named Linus to sell us his at half).
8. People getting up during the most rocking part of the set to get a box of nachos...are you fucking serious?
9. People holding up the men's room bathroom line because they are doing there hair in the mirrors. Fuck you.

OK apologies for the language, there's more but you get the idea of what kind of event this was, anyway, the music. The show opened up with a British band called The Cribs, they were awful and I would rather not talk about them.

I am going to talk about Franz Ferdinand first even thought they played after Death Cab, because in my opinion, Death Cab really stole this show. I had seen Franz Ferdinand once before in a theatre setting and thought that they were an awesome live band. In an arena I think they did even better. Their powerful fast and punchy dance-rock songs were perfect for a hockey rink full of college kids. Franz opened up with a cut from their new album You Could Have It So Much Better With Franz Ferdinand (horrendous title I know) and played a balanced mix of old and new tunes. I hate to say it but the highlight of their set to me was when they played their biggest single "Take Me Out" off their first album, its an extremely catchy song that's amazing to hear live. The band also played one song that had "never been played in the U.S." which I actually quite enjoyed. The song, who's title escapes me at the moment, featured frontman Alex Kapranos on acoustic guitar and a nice piano part from multi-instrumentalist Nick McCarthy, it was a catchy tune and a much needed change of pace. The band played for about an hour and were great for what they were. Franz Ferdinand are nothing spectacular and a lot of their songs sound exactly the same but they put on a great show and I had certainly had a good time watching them.

Now, with my indie-rock credibility down the drain, we rewind an hour and a half to Death Cab for Cutie's set...

Death Cab came on at around 9:00-ish (I don't really remember) and opened up with a song that I didn't recognize but I am now informed that it is the title track off of We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes. The band went on to play highlights from their latest album Plans their "breakthrough" record Transatlanticism as well as songs from a few of their other records. Being a not that hardcore Death Cab fan, I enjoyed all of their hits that they played: "Crooked Teeth," "Soul Meets Body," "Sound of Settling," "The New Year, "and "Title and Registration" were all highlights for me. Another highlight was when Ben (Gibbard, lead singer) came out and did a solo acoustic performance of "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" a really beautiful song that translated very well in a live setting minus the motherfuckers chatting it up behind us the entire time. Overall, the band itself sounded great, and really preformed the hell out of each song. My girlfriend made a good point saying that in an arena setting a lot of the little sounds and nuances that are prevalent in a lot of Death Cab songs got lost in the giant space which was true but nonetheless I thought the show was fantastic. The setlist was pretty good, though I was disappointed they didn't play "Your Heart Is An Empty Room," my favorite Death Cab song. The band was really active and although they did not talk much between songs, they really seemed like they were having a great time onstage, which for me is really important when watching a band in a live setting. I would highly recommend seeing this tour, that is, if you can get past the crowds that it draws.

Sam Prekop - Sam Prekop


I just picked up Sam Prekop's (of the Sea and Cake) first record over at Newbs' (Newbury Comics, the best record store around in my humble opinion). The record is self-titled and is basically an extension of Prekop's sound on his full band records with the Sea and Cake, minus the electronics. The record features Prekop's signature "Jazz-Indie-Pop" sound (or as I like to say, Jizz-Pop...just kidding) along with production and musical contribution from none other than Jim O'Rourke (Of Loose Fur, Gastr Del Soul, Solo Records, and Producer of about 4000 awesome records). The record opens with "Showrooms" a track that for the first 40 seconds or so could easily be a cut off of a more traditional Bill Frisell album. When Sam's soft, whispery voice comes in the band (comprised of Prekop on vocals and various instruments, fellow Sea and Cake member and multi instrumentalist Archer Prewitt, the aforementioned Jim O'Rourke, bassist Josh Abrams and percussionist Chad Taylor) sets into a sort of jazz groove that builds then falls and builds in falls in conjunction with Prekop's vocals until the tune finishes with a jazz flavored instrumental section lead by what sounds like a two violin, one viola, trio. The record moves along at a very leisurely pace, a perfect mix of smooth jazz and indie pop. Each song is guided along by both obscure instrumentation (chances are mostly O'Rourkes ideas) and Prekop's dreamy and relaxing voice. For me, Taylor's drumming, amongst other things, really make this record. His delicate use of brushes, cymbals, and hi-hat work perfectly in almost every song to accent Prekops gentle vocals and the songs' subtle arrangements. Overall, this is a beautifully produced album (I give O'Rourke credit yet again) that truly serves Prekops songs to give them an organic, airy, atmospheric feel. I can't help but think (at the risk of sounding like a bit of douche bag) of this record as a soundtrack to a day on a breezy, secluded beach with waves slowly crashing onto the sand make just the slightest of sounds. Lyrically, much of what Prekop is saying is inaudible and really trivial in terms of the whole picture, Prekop truly uses his voice as nothing more than another instrument in the band, and in this case, it really works. My major complaint with this record is that it is too monotonous, while more listens prove to open up my eyes more and more to the differences between the songs, I find that most of the tempos, arrangements, and general feel of the songs are very similar and tend to bleed together when looking back on the record. I suggest this record to fans on indie music who are looking for a more (apologies in advance) "chill" (let me explain, I don't mean "chill" in the sense of "the new Nickleback song is so chill dude" I mean it as in cool, as is in the way badass jazz musicians used to use the term cool) sounding band and have patience to sit through an instrument-based record that lacks big hooks and melodies (in the vein of Radioheads Kid A). Check it out, at its worst, its great background music and at its best it is a unique take on indie pop that can come from very few sources other than a band featuring Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, and Jim O'Rourke.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Brilliant Mistake


My friend Rich just started his own blog. He knows far more about music than me and is a much better writer to boot, check it out on my links on the right, its called Brilliant Mistake.

Voxtrot - Raised By Wolves EP/ Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, & Wives EP

Voxtrot fucking rules. That being said, let me tell you a little more about them. In terms of the actual band, I don't know much about them, I think they are from Austin, Texas but the lead singer, whose name is Ramesh Srivastava, moved here from Scotland...or something, this is all trivial information. Moving on, the band so far has only officially released two EP's 2005's Raised By Wolves EP and this year's Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, & Wives EP, both on Cult Hero records. Anyways these two EPs are absolutely fantastic. Voxtrot has written 10 of the most solid, catchy, pop songs that I have heard since Belle and Sebastian's Dear Catastrophe Waitress.

Raised by Wolves EP
On the Raised By Wolves EP the band opens up with a song called "Raised by Wolves." An upbeat tune that instantly kicks off with an extremely catchy verse featuring staccato "boom-CHICK" rhythm guitars and warm melodic vocals from frontman Ramesh Srivastava. The song then segues into a soaring chorus with classic "ahhhh" backing vocals that gives an almost Phil Spector-"Wall of Sound" feel to the track. The following two songs are actually quite similar in structure and tempo but have different but equally catchy melodies. On the fourth track, "Long Haul," the band shows a more relaxed mellow sound that for me was very reminiscent of a Sea and Cake song. The last song, "Wrecking Force," is an Interpol meets Belle and Sebastian rocker featuring a distorted electric violin, but as always, catchy melodies are everywhere. Lyrically, Voxtrot seems to be writing songs from a place of desperation and confusion. One of my favorite verses comes from the EP's opener "Raised By Wolves" where Srivastava sings "And you break, This into waste, We are desperate, lonely and underpaid, I’m a bitter man, I know, But listen, honey, you're no fun." Overall, this is an amazing debut from an amazing band that is sure to do big things in the world of indie music.

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, & Wives EP
On the Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, & Wives EP, released last week on Cult Hero, Voxtrot doesn't switch things up too much from the Raised By Wolves EP but the songs on Mothers are as good if not stronger then those found on its predecessor. If there is any major distinction between the two EPs I would say that some of the songs Mothers are a bit darker, not in terms of the lyrics, but simply in terms of the music and arrangements. The EP opens with a song of the same name which starts some rhythmic guitar noise smothered in reverb and then kicks into a fast down-stroked guitar driven verse. Then, in what has already become "classic Voxtrot" the band dives into a catchy anthematic chorus as Srivastava proclaims "Listen I've come to rock this boat!" The next few songs are classic indie pop tunes with a bit of a darker side (see the aforementioned Belle and Sebastian meets Interpol description). The set closes with two songs, "Four Long Days" and "Soft & Warm," that are a bit lighter than the ones that opened the album. The two final songs carry more of a Nada Surf pop feel but still have the same sort of desperate lyrics found earlier on the record as well as on Raised By Wolves.

Overall, Voxtrot is a band that shows a lot of promise, if these two EPs were combined into one album (as I imagine might happen eventually anyways) I would call it one of the greatest debuts since Weezer's Weezer (the Blue Album). I am yet to hear a Voxtrot song that I don't like and am looking foward to some more material from these guys. Here are some links:

The Voxtrot Kid - Ramesh Srivastava's Blog
Voxtrot Homepage
Voxtrot's Myspace - Listen to Some Songs

Monday, April 10, 2006

Upcoming Releases


My apologies, to those who actually read this (holla Cat and Rich), about the lack of material for the past few days, I have been quite busy (I'm sure there are hundreds who are just dying for some more musical insight from me). I am too lazy to write anything of substance right now so I will leave you with this humorous comic (courtesy of www.toothpastefordinner.com, a hilarious website that you should check out) and list of upcoming releases that I decided were worth checking out. Tommorow or the next day should see a review of two E.P.s from a band called Voxtrot, who are awesome, so I guess thats something to look foward to. Here are some upcoming releases to keep an eye out for:

April 11
Built to Spill - You in Reverse
Calexico - Garden Ruin
Pretty Girls Make Graves - Elan Vital
Josh Ritter - The Animal Years (I haven't heard of him but this record has been getting awesome reviews thus far)

April 18
Islands - Return to the Sea
Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea (there last one was really weird/bad but I think this should be better)
Drive By Truckers - A Blessing and A Curse (Again, haven't heard much of this band but it too has been getting rave reviews)

April 25
The Streets - The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living (I loved his latest album but it seems like there time is up, I'd be interested to hear this one anyway)
Tom Verlaine - Around
Tom Verlaine - Songs and Other Things (One of those Tom Verlaine [of the 70's band Television] records is instrumental the other isn't, he hasn't put out a record in a while but he is a great guitarist, defenitly worth checking out)

May 2
Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (This is a duo of DJ Dangermouse and rapper Cee-Lo, they already have a massive, out-of-nowhere hit in the UK and I heard a few tunes off this record and its pretty good, I am excited to hear this in full)
Pearl Jam also releases their self-titled record today but I don't like them at all so they are not on the list, sorry PJ.

May 9
Grandaddy - Just Like the Fambly Cat (Their Last Album)
Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast
Paul Simon - Surprise (His new album with/produced by Brian Eno, should be interesting)
Also new RHCP album comes out but, fuck that (see review of first single below).

May 23
Sereena Maneesh - Sereena Maneesh (An awesome album that has been circulating for a while now)
Mission of Burma - The Obliterati
The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off (I'm not really a fan but I guess they are ok)
Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock and Roll (This has been out in the UK for like a year but its finally getting US release, this band is ok but the singers got a weird voice and its kind of a monotonous record).

Thats about it, theres a few more good ones announced already for this summer including new records from Sonic Youth, Frank Black, Boards of Canada, Golden Smog, The Black Keys, and Christina Aguleira (spelling?). Keep your eyes peeled...or something.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Built to Spill - You In Reverse

I just listened to Built to Spill's new album You in Reverse and I am very impressed. This is the band's first record since 2001's Ancient Melodies of the Future and in my opinion it is a pretty big step up. You in Reverse opens up with a track called "Goin' Against Your Mind", an epic 8:42 track that starts out with an almost prog-rock (in a good way) instrumental and then goes in to a verse, chorus, etc. The track finishes with a bang of noise and guitars and really sets the tone for this extremely guitar-heavy record. The record then slows down a bit for a few tracks including my favorite song on the record, "Liar." An indie-rock version of a power-ballad that finds singer Doug Martsch singing one of my favorites verses from the record "When things are all you think of, And plans are all you make, And thoughts are all you dream of, And falls are all you take, Look out, the world's destroyin' ya, Relax, it isn't fair, Mother Nature's disposition, She don't mind, she don't care, She don't mind, she don't care." While these lyrics maybe a little bit on the cheesy side, they really represent the more personal song writing found on this Built to Spill record. After a few slower tunes, the band heads into a 4 song block of tunes that lasts almost 25 minutes and shows off the bands Neil Young-esque jamming and some of Martsch's best guitar playing on any Built to Spill record to date. Like most Built to Spill albums, You in Reverse really wins the audience with its melodies and instrumentation. The album features 7 songs clocking in at 5:00 and over and many of the songs have a similar feel to the band's 1997 album Perfect from Now On but with catchier riffs and better guitar solos. The record on a whole reminds me of a perfectly calculated blend of my favorite Built to Spill record, 1999's Keep it Like a Secret, and the aforementioned Perfect from Now On. You in Reverse meshes catchy melodies, top notch guitar work, extended instrumentals sections, and personal, sometimes introspective lyrics, to create the bands best record in over 7 years. This a record where the band has gone back to their indie-rock roots while at the same time looking onward into the future. I think this record is going to really bring the band back out into the spotlight and show them for what they really are: one the last great major-label bands of our time. You in Reverse comes out April 11 on Warner Bros. records you can pre-order it here. Built to Spill will also be embarking on a massive, 62-date tour this summer, you can check that out here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Neko Case - 4/5/06 - The Roxy Boston

So I just got back from seeing Neko Case at the Roxy and was pretty impressed with the show. The opener was Martha Wainwright of the Wainwright family (Rufus, Loudon III, etc) and she and her band, a bassist and a drummer put on a pretty good show. Martha has a great voice and writes some pretty good songs, including one song, "Ball and Chain," which she claimed was about the male genitalia. Martha played for about 40 minutes to a crowd that to my surprise seemed to be quite familiar with her songs. 20 minutes after Wainwright's set, Neko and her band took the stage. Case's band consisted of a drummer, an upright bassist, a pedal steel/banjo player, an electric guitarist, singer Kelly Hogan on back-up vocals, and of course Neko Case on guitar and vocals. Neko's voice was in top form despite the fact she seemed to be fighting a cold. The band played through a set of songs including some highlights from Case's latest album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood including "Star Witness," "That Teenage Feeling" and "John Saw the Number", some older songs, and some covers, most notably Bob Dylan's "Buckets of Rain" from Blood on the Tracks. While the band and the songs sounded great, I found that the songs began to sound very repetitive after 9 or 10 of them. It's not that there was anything wrong with the music, it just became very monotonous. On the other hand Case was very talkative betweens songs and seemed to be happy to be in Boston despite the fact that her and her guitarist were both fighting illnesses. Overall Case and her band put on a great show, while it would have been nice to hear a bit more contrast between songs, I am not a huge Neko Case fan and am not familiar with much of her back catalog. That being said, I feel like I definitely got my $15 worth (although I did get mine cheap, face value with fees was somewhere around $25) and I am listening to her record right now so I guess she made a positive affect on me. Next time I see her though, it will definitely be with the New Pornographers not solo.

If you want to check out this tour or any of the artists here are some links: Neko Case, Martha Wainwright

Pitchfork Reviews


I was talking with a friend about despite the fact that a lot of what pitchfork says is a bit snooty and pretentious, they do put out some hilarious album reviews, especially for the shitty ones, here are some links to some of the funniest ones I found:

Weezer - Make Believe
Oasis - Heathen Chemistry
Audioslave - Out of Exile...read this one it's hilarious
Louis XIV - The Best Little Secrets are Kept

Also in related issues, here is a link to a really funny sketch about indie hipster record store clerks. From Screenhead.
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