December 27, 2010
In terms of singles, La Roux's "Bulletproof" and David Guetta/Akon's "Sexy Bitch" were a couple of my favorites, though they were also both technically from 2009. Some of the songs Michelle Branch recorded in 2008 were finally released by Warner Brothers as an EP this year. They're good, but I don't know if they count here. Glassjaw also finally got some material out as an EP. These were really good tracks as well, but I have no idea when they were actually recorded (and technically the EP isn't available until 2011). The best singles I heard that actually do qualify as 2010 releases were Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" and Sarah Bareilles' "King of Anything." I hope they win some Grammys and stuff.
Now here are my favorite albums of 2010:
This year, many of the artists I had been waiting for in 2009 finally put out their albums. The Deftones had scrapped an entire album after bassist Chi Cheng fell into a coma, but quickly wrote and recorded an entire new album instead. Like "Minerva" and "Hole in the Earth," the title track from Diamond Eyes represents what I love most about this band--heavy riffing with soaring, ethereal choruses. I was particularly attracted to the harmonizing effect on the end of Chino's vocals. Other favorite tracks were "Rocket Skates," "Sex Tape," "Beauty School," and a faithful cover of The Cardigans' "Do You Believe."
At Night We Live
*** You will cry if you watch this video. Don't say I didn't warn you. ***
Far was one of a million 90s bands that reunited to tour in the past recently, but they were one of the only to actually get back in the studio and record a new album. The result was more of a modern update of the guys' evolution than a return to the classic Far sound. That's not a complaint, by the way. I'm not sure if they decided to continue on together after the album was released, but I really hope it's a stepping stone to further collaborations from a band who never really reached the level of acclaim they deserved while together the first time around. Other tracks from the album are a bit more upbeat, so if you're interested, check out "Better Surrender," "Dear Enemy," or the left-field cover of Ginuwine's "Pony."
The first song from this album sounds very much a natural extension of their last album, but then subsequent tracks reveal a new electronic direction for Tub Ring. At first, I worried that everyone playing an organic instrument may have quit the band, but then I realized that this recording is yet another experiment for a band having fun by changing their sound on each album. Whether change is out of necessity or self-challenge, it's important for musicians to be confident enough to take chances like this, and I look forward to whatever they have on deck for the next album. I would, however, like to see these tracks performed live first. Their set is extremely energetic and I think some of the weaker tunes on the album would benefit greatly from a live treatment. It's a shame that they haven't toured on this record at all. I'm sure they have their reasons. Anyway, favorite tracks: "Stop This (Now!)," "Bird of a Different Color," "Feed the Rapture," and the cover of Queen's "Flash."
Corin Tucker Band
I've already covered this album in detail, so I won't repeat myself. After subsequent listens and seeing the band live, I still think the writing and instrumentation on the album is tight and refreshing. I'm glad that this is what "middle-aged mom records" sound like these days. I'm also glad they released a video for a song other than "Doubt" because I don't think that track was a good representation of the album. I think the title track is my favorite.
The Damned Things
Dudes from Anthrax, Every Time I Die, and Fall Out Boy put together in one supergroup. I went to see them at their first ever live performance earlier this year, and I'm happy to say that the equation worked out perfectly for me. The album does not disappoint. Keith Buckley of ETID is one of my favorite lyricists ever, and his transition into a more melodic vocal style is a lot of fun to hear. There are definitely aggressive ETID-like passages found in the songs, but overall, the songs have more of an updated classic rock/action movie feel. It's not that the songs are cheesy, there's just an underlying appreciation for that aesthetic in the album subtext from the guitar solos to the background vocals in the choruses. They take cliches like partying on Friday night, a little darlin', and bad blood, and make them awesome for 2010. If The Wraith is ever remade, I want The Damned Things to create the soundtrack.
I should also take this moment to recognize "We've Got a Situation Here" as my pick for Video of the Year:
We've got references to comic books, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Full Metal Jacket, plus Joanna Angel blowing Brian Posehn. The whole concept is based on a Patton Oswalt joke and directed by Metalocalypse's Brendon Small... how could it not work? They rock the streets clean, indeed.
Shamefully, I have still not heard The Bride Screamed Murder, so if you were wondering where the Melvins were... sorry. I'll bet they're on somebody else's list. Let's go read those lists now!
December 24, 2010
December 21, 2010
Ah, 2010, the year I wrote this joke:
"Linguistics experts have predicted that 'Twenty Eleven' will be the preferred term for Americans next year. I guess I'm in the minority because 'I want to stab Ke$ha two thousand and eleven times' sounds smoother to me." (Me, 2010)
More importantly, it was the year I replaced my lost mp3 player and cut down on listening to the radio again. I bought my second Creative Zen Vision: M used on ebay from a guy in Florida who actually left 40gb of music loaded on the thing. Not all of it was gold (like the 20+ Jimmy Buffet albums), but I got enough Yacht Rock, Classic Rock, and 80s/90s hits to keep me busy for a while. The only problem was that its battery life was not as good as my original Zen, so I often found myself tuning to my standby mix CDs, or groan, back to the radio.
Pop radio was very much an exciting novelty for me in 2009, but by 2010 it was all dull and routine. The artists are all the same, the synthesizers are just as lame, and the lyrics are all Aspertame. Now keep in mind that almost all the new music I hear comes from Top 40 radio, is recycled on Adult Contemporary, and then expelled in commercials and movie trailers. So most of it is either bad to begin with, or will oversaturate to the point of hating it eventually anyway. I've tried to concentrate on some songs that I've hated this year because for reasons other than "I'm sick of hearing them." Let's see if I can stick to that.
"In My Head"
(I know I'm already breaking the rules by bringing up something technically from 2009. It was released too late to make last year's radar, so congratulations, Jason.)
The first time I heard this song, The RoBeastress and I were playing Scrabble and listening to Music Choice stations on the TV. Our rule is whoever is in the lead in the game gets to choose the channel. One of us flipped through to Party Hits or Hit List or something, and the first few notes started. I assumed it was "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga, and as the song progressed for three minutes, I couldn't believe that someone just stole Lady Gaga's entire track and got away with it. The beat, the verse, the chorus--it's the exact same song. I assumed that music fans would see through this imitation and send him back to Poseur City.
Boy, was I wrong. This single sold over 2 million in the US and the video's up to 76 million hits on youtube, despite the absence of originality in the song. I haven't figured out where the pre-chorus is stolen from yet, but I'm sure it's from a Gaga song I just haven't heard. According to the Music Choice crawl, he opened for Lady Gaga on one of her tours. Surprise! I can't believe it took four people to write a song that someone else already wrote.
"Don't Stop Believing" (Regionals Version)
I'm concentrating on the Regionals Version because that's the one I heard recently announced as a 2011 Grammy Nominee. I don't really know what "Regionals Version" means, or if it differs from the original Glee version, if there even is one. I've never seen the show, if that isn't obvious.
Journey's original version is already pretty cheeseball, but it at least rocks where it needs to. The Glee version castrates the rock and leaves only the cheeseball. I don't have problem with songs being reworked as covers, but this one is pretty half-assed. I can deal with the vocals replacing the piano intro--it's an even trade and an interesting artistic choice--but where the hell is the bass? The bass fills and drums are a huge part of what makes the original good, and this version erases them from history. Of course the guitar is still there because the solo pads the track length and allows them to catch their breath in preparation for the predictable key change.
I know Glee is all about showcasing vocals, but taking away from the music in order to make vocals look better is never going to work for me. Fortunately, Tony Soprano is not around to hear this version.
This song was deemed Jam of the Summer before it was ever released, and I still haven't identified its hook. I mean, I get Katy Perry. She's not the best singer on the block, but she's attractive, writes her own stuff, and has a flashy sense of humor and fashion. And it helps that Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Pink, and Kelly Clarkson were all out of the spotlight most of the year, leaving Katy Perry and Rhianna to run around the radio unsupervised.
Every time I hear "California Gurls" it just sounds like a bunch of words brainstormed at a California Chamber of Commerce meeting on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. The phrases that rhymed were matched up and then a couple bars of music were slapped on and repeated. The whole things just sounds like a commercial: "California wine, it's undeniable!/Orange Juice, we've got it on sale!". There were over 9000 parodies of the song and none were less creative than the original--that's a bad sign. As for the video, there was WAY more thought put into it, and that's the secret behind the song's success.
I know she's capable of better songwriting than this, but more often than not, she squanders it. Kelly Clarkson used two of Perry's older songs on her own album ("I Do Not Hook Up" and "Long Shot") and I thought they were really good. But then I hear dumbed down stuff like "Hot 'n' Cold" and "Waking Up in Vegas" and I can't help but think she's putting in minimal effort. Hell, I even like "Teenage Dream" because it at least sounds more subtle than most Top 40. But I will quote Local H once again and say "Please no more California Songs... (and fuck New York too)."
"Raise Your Glass"
All right, so Pink did do something this year. She put out a greatest hits album in November with a new song or two. To me, "Raise Your Glass" should have no problem fitting in there because it's another formulaic Pink tune with pseudo-punk attitude, calculated quirk, and anthemic prom/wedding/Friday night-ready choruses. I appreciate her sense of humor (which I get more out of the video than the song itself), but I think she's often out of place. I recognize that Pink's intention is to represent the "dirty, little freaks," but can you do that spending millions of dollars on producers, videos, and promotion? She wishes we would "just freak out already," but I don't see her leading much of an example. Maybe playing the Top 40 game is the only way she thinks she will still be able to reach her peeps, but if she wants to fucking rock out and get dirty, then I say do it already! Get the unemployed guys from Nine Inch Nails together and write some crazy shit with them. Or if you want to keep writing songs like "Please Don't Leave Me" (which I liked), then keep doing that, but I'm not accepting that you're an outsider when your stuff sounds like it's comfortable inside.
My Chemical Romance
I've defended My Chemical Romance in the past, but shit like this makes it difficult. I thought Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge was a refreshing, exciting rock album in 2004. The signer sang and yelled like a madman, the backups vocals were awesome, the guitars played lots of fun shit, and the drums kicked ass. I didn't get the "concept" of the album, but still liked the energy of what everyone was doing on it.
I didn't buy the album after that because they seemed to really push the concept album thing again and a couple of the songs I heard sounded very arena-rock, which is really tough to pull off. I can occasionally enjoy stuff like that (or maybe just Pink Floyd's The Wall), but when Muse or My Chemical Romance does it, I'd rather tell them to stop shooting so high so it doesn't go over my head.
Unfortunately, "SING" sings directly to the imaginary boys and girls with generic imaginary problems in the imaginary arena. I am not in that arena. I'm just a little dude in a little car listening on my little speakers. Don't sing about singing, just fucking sing. Sloganeering is why we don't trust politicians or salesman. Of all people, Gerard Way should know by now that the meme makes you, not the other way around. Just write cool shit and the right people will like it. I know I've said this before, but you don't have to try so hard.
I also just wanted to mention that "SING" has a chorus dangerously close to Lostprophets' similarly vague but much more down-to-Earth anthem "Last Train Home." The end.
Far East Movement f/ The Cataracts & Dev
"Like a G6"
Easily the most annoying song I've heard all year. There's just a standard drum machine beat and a bouncy-synth tone that I'm positive Pitbull used for a song that I hated last year. Lyrically, I don't know what the fuck anybody's talking about. Some dudes sort of rap occasionally, and that's split up by a chick simply speaking the hook before the copypasta producers do their work. It's like the Black Eyed Peas with even less musical ambition. The only thing that made this listenable was when someone told me to pretend they're saying "Now I'm feeling so fried like a cheesestick."
The B.o.B. Portions of
"Any B.o.B. Song"
They all start with a catchy hooks sung by a familiar voice, and they usually have interesting beats behind them. And then as soon as the hook is over, B.o.B. starts rapping and I realize I've been hornswaggled again. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I am really just not a fan of rap. I won't comment whether the guy is a good at rapping or not. I think songs like these (and "California Gurls" featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg) are just shameless, opportunistic plays for Grammy nomination because they are eligible for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. And no surprise, both this song and Perry's were nominated. B.o.B. seems adequate at whatever he's doing, but his rapping is just not impressive to hold my interest from hook to hook. I recognize the need for rhythmic vocals absent of melody occasionally, but I'd rather hear them hollered with more complicated music behind it. In the case of these B.o.B. songs, I think I'd prefer the songs to continue by Hayley Williams or Rivers Cuomo or whomever is starting them...
Maybe I take that back. I don't want Weezer to write and performs songs anymore. The lyrics just make me want to puke, and Rivers barely even sings them anymore. "Memories/Make me want to go back there/Back there"? That's your millionaire rock star chorus? Try again dude. Sure, it's a catchy melody, but any of the guys in Jackass could have written it 1000x more interesting. For instance:
- Shitstorm/Flying like a hurricane/Of black rain
- Master/Baiting like a bastard/Faster
- Handlebar/Mustache is on fire/Why sir?
- Punching you/In the balls in 3D/That's three of me
- Jealousy/Turning saints into the sea (Oh wait, that was The Killers)
- Gravity/Seems to be malfunctioning (Nope, that was Shades Apart)
- Never/Buy a Weezer album/Again
I don't honestly believe that anyone is really buying their albums anymore. If you have, could you please admit it here, today? We'd like to take you in for some tests.
December 9, 2010
This is what it would like if I was on Jupiter:
December 2, 2010
When I took a closer look, I discovered that they still had not let go of each other or accepted defeat. Neither were touching the ground except for two tiptoes of their five-point legs. It was a perfect arch of chair ballet. The seat, the back, the arms all came alive in an embrace. Chair 69 or The Kiss 2010? It's your call.
I took a million pictures of the chairs from every angle feeling the double rainbow guy, then pulled a screen over to make the background more interesting. Eventually, I had to disrupt the union to get some shots on a less corporate carpet. Here are my favorites (click for larger versions):
|I like this because it looks metallic and airbrushed.|
|If L7 ever gets back together, here's their album cover.|
|The fireplace scenery never quite worked out. Maybe it was the creepy red voyeur?|
December 1, 2010
November 18, 2010
Coincidentally, I still have the comment page open in another tab of my browser, not because I anticipated this moment, but because I'm lazy. But lucky for us, I can show you all the responses that were on the page 7 or 8 hours ago before they decided to hide them.
I saw this Toyota Highlander commercial the other day and it really fired me up:
[update 1: video is mirrored here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzuK85t2jlE]
I've owned a couple used Toyotas and really have nothing exceptionally negative to say about their vehicles (except for that one time my hood flew off the car for no apparent reason while driving 50 mph), but their attitude in this commercial is really pitiful. Shit like this is why economically disadvantaged kids get beat up and made fun of. Whether it be about sneakers, jeans, electronics, or this case, to suggest that a child should feel shame for what vehicle his family owns is incredibly irresponsible and downright mean. What's really shameful is that they are actually paying another child to spew this elitist propaganda and essentially bully you, and anyone else with a car that's not up to their standards.
Now I recognize this specific commercial, "Scatter," is part of a larger campaign where the focus is "Lame Parents," and in a larger context, you can see elements of that in this commercial, but as a stand-alone, it's not enough to distract from the loudest message--station wagon kid=lame, Toyota kid=lucky. Personally, I thought flannel was cool again these days, but what do I know? I know that I'm able to read between the lines of their advertisement, and since they have a 12-year old acting as their pitchman, I'm pretty sure children will be reading between them too.
In conclusion, fuck you big time Toyota, and fuck you too Saatchi & Saatchi for putting the "Lame" campaign together for them. I'm so happy to see the negative response these videos are getting on YouTube. It will be even better when they realize what assholes they are and pull the commercials from the air.
[update 2: ToyotaUSA put the video in "private" hours later. read more in my follow-up post.]
[update 3: In a blatant attempt for page traffic, I just wanted to add the words "complaint" "offensive" and "sucks" ;) ]
October 31, 2010
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you haven't seen Goodfellas enough times.
And if you still don't get it... let's just say I was Elderly Zack Galifianakis with two dogs.
October 8, 2010
I'm not sure why I'm bothering with all these reviews. I think it's more about my honing my writing than it is about looking for good music or sharing my thoughts on artists. The problem is that the format I've chosen for my reviews--to review each track on a new album with my first impressions--isn't exactly designed for streamlining a writing technique. I'm digging into the reviews with purposeful ignorance which clears me of as much personal and media bias as possible, but the trade-off is that it leaves me vulnerable for mistakes and missed opportunities. And what does anyone learn from a review like that? Is anyone even supposed to learn anything? Am I promoting these albums or myself? What is the point of writing, blogging, anything, etc.? Is about money? God damned money? It sure as hell ain't about basketball.
This AOL New Music thing is good because it streams newly and soon-to-be released albums free of charge. They can't just be random free albums though, right? They're probably all in the AOL family of conglomerations. What do they own these days? Are they still friendly with Time-Warner? I don't know, and I'm probably better off not knowing. This is going to be a long day, and I'm getting too crazy, too early.
I chose the album The Great Unknown by Logan because I was going to weave it into the first paragraph as some sort of existential segue to my impending unemployment, but changed my mind. I have never heard of Logan. I don't yet know if it's a person, a band, or a music-making robot because I haven't clicked on the album cover. The bland concrete slab suggests to me that it's going to be a boring corporate hard rock band.
[At this point, I clicked 600 times and couldn't get the god damned album to play. Two days later I discovered that Firefox was the source of my computer's crippling network issues, so I can resume the review, or what David Archuleta fans would refer to as a "review." Since then I found out they're a Scottish hard rock band that wears black t-shirts. Let's hear if I'm right about their sound. The suspense has been killing me...]
"The Great Unknown" -The intro sounds familiar. The spacey, arpeggiated guitars and drum beat reminds me of the Incubus song "Stellar." The guy starts singing and I absolutely hate his voice. It takes the annoying Aaron Lewis/Scott Stapp style and marries it with the annoying Nickelback pseudo twang. Lyrics and guitar progressions are incredibly dull and formulaic. I could easily see this being played on WDHA, and no, that's not a compliment.
"Rock 'n' Roll Way" - Still immensely annoying and boring, but at least there's a fun little shuffle in the guitar riff--a way less interesting Smashing Pumpkins "Here is No Why." Dude's voice is SO NASAL that's it's making me actually look forward to the 15-second guitar solo that I guarantee will show up at the same point in every song on this album, except for on the acoustic/piano ballad that I guarantee will show up at some point later on the album. This will probably be played at the next WWE pay-per-view event. Still not a compliment.
"When I Get Down" - Arpeggiated intro? Check. Does this shit really make money? Fuck every record company for encouraging people to buy this crap. 15 second solo? Check. Music stops before last chorus? Check. Think less "When I Get Down (Listening to James Brown) and more "When I Get Down (From the Ledge After Listening To This Song)."
"Save Me" - Arpeggiated intro? Check. The rhymes on all these songs are extremely elementary, and glancing at the titles, I know these words are all going to be recycled soon. I don't think he's said "pain" yet at least. 15 second solo? Check. Oh fuck, is that a violin? They're expanding their sound!
"Jump In Again" - Arpeggiated intro? Check. The he sings "jump in" through this nose makes it sounds like he's saying "the pain" so I'll count that as a strike. 15 second guitar solo? Check. Music stops before last chorus? Check.
"Hallowed Ground" - No spacey intro this time, but the intro riff sounds pretty much like the repetitive verse riff of "When I Get Down." These guys want to rock big, but they don't want to rock fast or fun. Every riff is dark, but derivative. 15 second guitar solo? Check. This one uses "ground" and "down" in the chorus (much like in "When I Get Down"), but for variety adds "bound." I can't wait to hear what they've got cooking for "Lost & Found."
"Brother" - Arpeggiated intro? Check. Every fucking cliche on Earth? Check. 15 second guitar solo? Check. Music stops before last chorus? Why do people feel the need to keep writing generic songs about freedom? If you call a song "Brother" you should write it about the unique experiences or character of your fucking brother, not some hackneyed bullshit about standing and dying side by side with your brother at the river of blood for freedom, etc.
"Lost & Found" - Arpeggiated intro? Check. The music is noticeably more upbeat on the verse in this track, despite singing about "turmoil" and "burning." It doesn't keep up though because they're determined to muck things up with gloom. The chorus are the usual arena rock bullshit but surprisingly doesn't rhyme "found" with anything. Instead it's the "lost your way" cliche coupled with more hand holding (I don't even remember what other song that was in anymore). 15 second guitar solo? Check.
"Spin the Wheel" - Here we go, this one's gonna rock. Ok, don't get me wrong, this is still generic, corporate hard rock, but the lead guitarist is having fun now at least. Some trills, string scratches, wah-wah, turning the pickups on and off, 15 second solo, etc. The lyrics are still terrible and vaguely defiant ("Better stay out of my way"), but the music is less dreary than most of the tunes so far. Maybe that's a compliment?
"Born to Run (Born to Love)" - Arpeggiated intro? Check. Born to run? Check. Born to love? Check. Born to rock? Nah, they still won't commit to that. They are prepared to spew more vagueness in the lyrics though. The chorus proclaims "Everything's gonna get better," but then for some reason they hedge their bets a bit and admit "Everything's gonna get a little bit better." For the record, it doesn't get any better at all after the 15 second solo.
Big doomy guitar riff starts off "Hurricane." I'm convinced that there are two different people writing these songs--one is a pussy, and the other is less of a pussy. The one that is less of a pussy should quit and join a band with people that aren't constantly staying "you know what would be awesome to start this song? A spacey arpeggio!" We've got "down" rhyming with "ground" again, by the way. No solo, but Wylde leads going all throughout the song.
The last song starts with a spacey arpeggio just in case you didn't see it coming. "Hold My Hand" of course features more hand-holding support for someone hiding and fighting through vague problems. When the singer is done collecting money from vague music listeners, he should maybe go get a job as a social worker.
If you have vague problems and a 15 second guitar solo can solve them, by all means, buy this album.
October 5, 2010
The first song is pretty much his voice (which I am finding to be annoying) accompanied by some steady muted guitar and a minimal, dancepop electronic rhythm track. If it sounds familiar to you, it's because Kelly Clarkson, Pink, and your Aunt Tilly used the same formula for their dancepop hits but faster and with more balls. At the part you expect the song to start thumping, it just starts... I don't know... queefing? There's absolutely no edge to this music whatsoever. There's even less substance, unless you counts the words "down," "oh," and "yeah," as substantial.
This song, by the way, is called "The Other Side of Down." The album is also called The Other Side of Down. Knowing that I'm on the other side of down just makes me want to back to the other other side...
...which is just plain old Down. Fortunately, Down is releasing an album today too, so I'm going to listen to that instead. I have Down's first album, NOLA, and I think it kicks a fair amount of ass. I don't know how many albums they've put out since the mid-'90s, but it's clearly enough to allow for a live album where I only recognize a handful of titles. Diary of a Mad Band is the name of the collection. Let's see how mad they are.
"Losing All" starts with a riff similar to the start of their debut album, but then Phil Anselmo lets out a pretty shitty off-key howl, and I know it's not the same song. Even if Phil is an angry dude, I never really thought of Down as "a mad band." The middle of the song has some more off-key howls, and phlegmy, muffled yelling. Then the audience joins in, just as far off key. The music is typical Down--southern influenced metal with duel guitar action--which is why I can keep listening.
The next song, "Lifer" is dedicated to Dimebag Darrell... "and all of our brothers that have lost their way along the fucking path of life." Sort of a tainted dedication, if you ask me. Dimebag didn't exactly lose his way in life--he was senselessly murdered onstage by a mentally disturbed kid. Anyway, I remember liking this song, but Phil just can't yell like he used to. He keeps bailing on the awesome "I'm staring right back at myself" part to let the audience sing it. He does gather a little more steam in the middle, but then bails again.
The third song is dedicated to "everybody in this mother fucking place, as usual, because that is why we are here." I'm not trying to slam Phil Anselmo by pointing out his crazy stage banter. It's really entertaining to me that he introduces his songs like Wesley Willis used to. "Lysergic Funeral Procession" is "off of the second god damned record," which means I don't know it. The catchiest part is when Phil says the title during the song in a deep scary voice. Halfway through, it totally Black Sabbaths into a different song.
I once saw a band that used Phil Anselmo stage banter samples in between their songs. They didn't speak at all, they just let Phil ramble for them for a few minutes at a time. It was awesome. Once he gets going, he is filled with a golden stream-of-semiconciousness. Before the fourth song starts, however, the band seizes its chance to show it can improvise too. As the European audience claps a little beat, Down jumps in and jams for a minute. They probably could have gone on for a while because there's a lot of talented musicians in the band. I mean, gee whiz, they're a supergroup after all!
"Rehab" is another one I remember really liking from the first album, but Phil is shitting it up a bit with more consistently off-key vocals. The strong melodic guitar leads just make it more obvious.
"Temptation Wings" is "off of the first god damned record" and is another one shitted up once the vocals start. Such a shame because this a killer song. "Smoke that hash, smoke that dope" Phil says during the slower bridge. Yeah, kids, smoke that hash if you don't want to be able to sing your own songs in 15 years. I'm actually tempted to go back to David Archuleta.
More talking. Phil says no one understands the second god damned record. Then goes into more off-key vocals for "Ghosts and the Mississippi." He ends on key, but out of steam. Then he feels the need to go for one more unnecessary "yeah" to finish off the track, and it's terribly off key. I can't believe there are ten more songs.
"Learn From This Mistake" is mellow and much better for Phil's vocal range. Unfortunately, it's a pretty repetitive tune with a long guitar solo.
"Hail the Leaf" starts out solid, and just as I was about to say that Phil finally sounds warmed up, I think he blew it out again. Jinx? Believe me, I know it's not easy to perform vocals, especially not at the aggressive standard he's previously set on record (Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power). Performing live is one thing, if your goal is just to get out your feelings to an audience, but it just doesn't seem worth putting out a live album if vocals are going to be such a distraction. Maybe it's a bad night, I don't know. Maybe their fans don't even care about hitting notes. "Hail the Leaf" ends very strongly, by the way.
I'm not familiar with the track "New Orleans is a Dying Whore," but "Let's eat pussy and drink fucking beer" is a lyric that sounds right at home there. I'll bet David Archuleta's lyrics never approach that level of honesty.
"Lies (I Don't Know What They Say, But...)" is unlike the other Down songs. It's a very playful 3/4 and that's not just referring to the time signature--Phil is only fucking up 3 out of every 4 notes. I wonder if it's a cover or a B-side.
"Underneath Everything" is not particularly noteworthy other than Phil saying "1, 2, Fuck You."
"The Seed" is another pot song Phil isn't singing well. Diary of a Mad Fan.
Last song is "Eyes of the South." "I want to thank every motherfucker, every band, every band that thinks they're doom 'cause they tune down and play slow. It's not what it's about, brother. You gotta have a talented motherfucker up here like me singing. Hah! Until we come back, let me ask you one question--is it OK if Down plays here again soon? [approving cheers] Then fuck this world. Fuck everybody in the world." Somebody singing backup is off-key too.
"If you wanna hear more, you know what to do... Hail Satan." Three song encore. "Jail" is going for a "Planet Caravan" feel, but is so incredibly painful to hear. "Stone the Crow" is a great song that doesn't sound so great live. It lumbers just a tad and Phil gives the vocal job to the audience again. When it's finished, Phil says "I want everyone to catch their fucking breath" so they can think about their final request. I'm sure that's the only reason. "The last song of the night is by a band called Green Day--just kidding." "Bury Me in Smoke" closes out the album. I know this song. It always made me want to sing "Old King Cole was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he" over the chuggedy main riff. The end.
Well, that was a real chore. I feel like I started this three hours ago. I am positive that I would never buy an album with Phil Anselmo performing live on it. That being said, I think Phil Anselmo absolutely has what it takes to put Henry Rollins and his tough guy spoken word act out of business. I would buy a double album of just his random crowd banter if it existed. I'm sorry that in a band setting his poor singing takes away from the music, because NOLA is a really good album. I thought the unfamiliar material was pretty good too, except for the couple of mellow filler tracks. If it's not obvious by now, skip this live stuff and go right to the studio output.
October 1, 2010
"1,000 Years" - Though there is the presence of a some distorted electric guitar, this has definitely set a more mellow tone than most of Sleater-Kinney's energetic output. Not that it doesn't rock. Drums kick in after a short while and the song moves at a nice pace. Cool bass lines. Corin's not wailing, but she's still putting her unique voice to good use. There's an instrument that comes in at the end that pairs up well with her delivery. It's not a "cello."
"Half A World Away" is also the title of a catchy acoustic Oasis tune. Like that song, this has a weird sounding percussive track, but the guitar is unmistakeably from someone who used to be in Sleater-Kinney. This one picks up a bit too. I think this album is going to be awesome.
(30-second support NPR break)
"It’s Always Summer" - The verse melody reminds me a bit of "Because the Night." More kooky percussion. Oh shit, there's the "cello."
"Handed Love" - If I were to name this tune in only two notes I would have said "This is Beck's 'Where It's At.'" Three notes and I would have been wrong. All of these tracks have had very minimalist beginnings, then picked up a bit, then ended between the 3 and 4 minute mark. This track is no different. What's keeping it fresh though is the instrumentation. This one has an organ and some backmasked guitars. It also has some crazy fucking whammied guitar leads.
"Doubt" - Instead of being a slow burner the 5th song opens with a rock intro that doesn't stop. Wait. It stops 2 minutes in. It's like this album is reading my review. I was just about to complain that the song was teetering on the edge of predictability and it completely stopped, and rebuilt... with FIDDLES?! Yes! To be honest, I'm a little surprised to see that this is the single (or at least, the track being pushed everywhere as the free mp3 download). It's not bad, but I think the last 4 songs have been more interesting.
"Dragon" - Ok, back to acoustic picking. Unlike last week's Jimmy Eat World album, these songs have the ability to be soft without being slow as molasses. You know, two minutes in, and there's been like 5 or 6 different sections and each one has had a different feel. To label this track acoustic after the first 10 second is a disservice. To label this album as mellow is the same.
"Riley" - Piano. A little "Because the Night"-y again. Just a little. And again, after a minute, the feel of the song totally changes. This reminds me of the Eddie Vedder solo album, not just because they're pals and recorded solo albums, but because all the songs are quite short and not immediately reminiscent of their prior band output. The Eddie Vedder solo songs were short, but often felt incomplete, like they just ran out of time or instruments around the studio. The Corin Tucker songs feel very developed and dynamic and prove their point in a short time.
"Pulling Pieces" - Have you noticed that I never talk about the lyrics in my reviews? I didn't notice until I started reading other people's reviews of the last two albums I did for comparison and saw that they all quoted and analyzed lyrics. I just really don't care that much about lyrics. I mean bad lyrics are bad, but if they aren't bad, I tend to not give them too much attention. Melodies are more important me than words when I'm listening. I did however notice that in this song, Corin says "I'm just a shadow of what I used to be." I bet somebody's going to mention that in a review of this album and then say "No, you're not, Corin! You're better than ever!". And if no one does, well then I guess I just did.
"Thrift Store Coats" - Starts with a crazy rhythm sample than changes to simple electric guitar and vocals. Her vocal technique alone is full of wild dynamics. She'll sing soft and low and then in the middle of the line switch to a high cry and back. If this isn't nominated for a Grammy next year, then fuck everyone in the music industry. Ok, fuck them anyway.
"Big Goodbye" - There are some more crazy guitar leads here. I shouldn't be so shocked because Sleater-Kinney had very unorthodox guitar leads. Maybe these are the "angles" people were talking about?
"Miles Away" - There's an annoying distortion/feedback I'm hearing when she peaks on her vocals. It may just be the speakers I'm listening through but I haven't heard it any other time on the album. It reminds me how much I disliked the production on the last Sleater-Kinney album. The songs were good but I hated the crappy recording. I wonder who produced this album because it's been a real pleasure to listen to. Until this track. The string noise as she's changing chords on the guitar very jarring. Maybe it will grow on me as a percussive lo-fi sound, but right now I'm concentrating on first impressions and what stands out. This is the last song, and I think it's the only one that didn't pick up at some point. I guess it makes sense to finish with it because it's a piano ballad. Those little annoyances leave a bad note to end on for me though.
Ah, who am I kidding? That last track isn't enough to ruin the album for me. I really enjoyed it and will undoubtedly be picking it up. And unfortunately it seems that Grammy nomination eligibility resets on October 1st each year. I hope this is not forgotten by 2012.
September 27, 2010
- Jimmy Eat World's album Invented is currently streaming on Myspace
- A View To A Kill is considered the worst James Bond film
Well, "My Best Theory" doesn't really explode like I imagined it would. The last three Jimmy Eat World albums all started with exploders ("Bleed American," "Futures," and "Big Casino"), but this song is pretty comfortable in the middle lane, not breaking any real new ground. I like the windy, ugly guitar in the brief solo.
"Evidence" (not to be confused with the third song on Faith No More's King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime) starts out steady and simple, but unlike the last two actually does explode into a chorus. The guitars at least sound like they're blowing up. The drums could stand to blow up a bit. There are some good crazy background sounds and feedback in this one too.
"Higher Devotion" starts with some crazy sounds and feedback too before moving into another steady rhythm track. The band has had a tendency over the past few albums to sometimes slip into a robotic trance, with bass and drums and rhythm guitar playing repetitive 4:4 riffs. When there's energy behind it, I can accept the big barre chords and simple progressions when there's some energy behind it ("The Middle"), but other times it just sounds like they are just being lazy and trying to cover it up with other weird sounds. Also, it seems that they've finally got a guy singing falsetto in the chorus instead of hiring a chick to do it. Unfortunately, it's not enough for me to make this track interesting.
"Movielike" begins with a drum machine beat that reminds me immediately of No Doubt's "New." The track ends up being much less energetic that that song. There is a big chorus of backup vocals that joins in towards the end of the song, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet. I need something faster or heavier first.
"Coffee and Cigarettes" - Faster, and heavier. And simple and repetitive. And the chimes again. And there's the chick singing vocals. This reminds me of a song they've already done, but I can't recall which one just yet. Maybe it reminds me of all of them rolled into one. Too by-the-numbers for me.
It may be hard to believe, but I am a Jimmy Eat World fan. I like the chances they took on slower, longer songs from Clarity and I also appreciate the shorter, poppier Bleed American. And I like Futures because it sort of combined the two. Invented seems to sound fairly similar to Chase the Light but I don't exactly know how to describe it. Maybe these two albums just sound more calculated than the others. "Stop" is all right because it sounds like it's got a little bit more space to it, but it's another mid tempo tune. Is it me? Am I just in a fast mood today?
I'm just not going to get a faster song, am I? "Littlething" has more strings and stuff. It will probably be in a movie or a tv show that I won't watch.
"Cut" is sparse, long, and slow. It's ok though. I might have liked drums to pick up somewhere in there.
"Action Needs an Audience" is a quick one, and starts with a guitar riff in the vein of "My Best Theory" and sounds very similar to a riff in the bridge of "Get It Faster." This is track that that other guy (Tom) sings. He hasn't sung lead on the album in a long time, so I guess they figured they'd hide it towards the end of the album. It's really not so bad. It's a bit more aggressive, but still fairly formulaic. I think they might need more of this aggression sprinkled around the album next time.
The shortest song on the album is followed by the longest. "Invented" is a nice tune. The first five minutes are acoustic and pretty, and then it briefly gets heavy and uglied up. This is good. I like when they take their formula and intentionally fuck it up.
By the title alone, it's pretty obvious that "Mixtape" is aiming for the corny nostalgic teen love song. And it does, but it's not as bad as I anticipated. It might have benefited from a little distance from the previous slow, long song. "Invented" was a more superior album closer.
Overall, the album was ok. The slow reflective songs were good, but the mid tempo rock songs were not very interesting. I feel like Jimmy Eat World is at their best when they have more harmonies, more varied instrumentation, and more dynamics from track to track. That rhythm section needs to step up their game too. And more explosions. I will probably wait until I see this one used before picking it up.
As for this new music review feature of mine (if I do in fact, keep finding enough freely streaming Myspace albums to keep it going), I'm not sure how its shaping up yet. Unlike the Weezer Hurley review last time, this wasn't born on Twitter, so I could ramble a bit more about each track. Please keep in mind that I only listened to each of these songs once. It can often take me a while to get into a tune, but I can only capture my first impressions once. Once.
September 22, 2010
September 21, 2010
September 10, 2010
Make Believe was the last Weezer album I bought. It pissed me off a lot. I think most people were pissed off way before that, but I stuck it out for a bit. I like a couple songs from that album, but because that album came during a year of disappointing purchases, I swore I wouldn't buy another from them sight unseen/sound unheard.
Since then, I haven't heard much of their output except for the radio singles.That semi-acoustic song with the long title from the last album was catchy, but nothing else moved me enough to throw my money at them again. Fortunately, their new album Hurley happens to be streaming freely on Myspace, so I figured there would be no harm in listening. Here is a quick rundown of my crude impressions in 140 characters or less. (Apologies to my Twitter pals who've sat through this already for the last half hour).
First song "Memories" is terrible.
"Ruling Me" - nice bright chords, terribly pedestrian rhymes
"Trainwrecks" 80s power ballad bad on purpose? wouldn't listen again. the guitar leads all sound recorded direct in so far.
"Unspoken" starts plain. gets schmaltzy. then gets heavy. best dynamics so far, but still shitty, shitty chorus lyrics.
"Where's my sex" has got me infuriated. It's a nice tune, but I wrote the lyrics "Where's my sextant" 3 years ago. I'm more clever.
One more for "Where's My Sex?" It has an awesome completely misplaced bridge. #hurley should have started on track 4.
"Run Away" short and sweet. more recycled rhymes (i'm actually plotting a blog around this).
"Hang On" Ok. By the numbers. Nothing special.
Back to all-out garbage with "Smart Girls." (though I do really dig the barbershop background vox in the chorus)
I almost like "Brave New World." But I don't. I enjoy the riffs/progressions and background vox but lyrics are blah again.
"Time Flies" lo-fi demo quality of this tune is a welcome change. would make for a good hidden track. The End.
Had this been an 5-song EP, I might consider owning it, but there's just too many things that make me roll my eyes. The bad songs are either incredibly generic or outright annoying. The tedium quickly steamrolls whatever positive momentum they gathered in the middle. When "Smart Girls" came on, all hope was instantly deflated. I don't know if The Weezer Problem is that they're too prolific and don't know how to toss their shitty songs back into the lake, or if they have just sunk to a point where shitty is their new standard. Putting out an album every single year is an admirable goal for a mainstream band these days, and I applaud them for achieving that in the past three years, but the creative experiment is not amounting to anything. The songs aren't getting more complex, more interesting, or better. It's going to take a lot more hard work to get that killer Weezer's Greatest Hits in 2018.
If they do ever put out a greatest hits compilation, I suggest they call it Phone because Rivers seems to have some obsession with the word. It's on this album twice. In "Run Away," we have:
And now you're all aloneAnd in "Ruling Me" it's:
You're sitting by the telephone
Ring ring goes your telephoneAnybody remember the B-Side "Suzanne" from Mallrats?
You act like you ain't at home
From "Jamie" around the same time:When I met you I was all alone
Cold and hungry cryin' on the phone
"Knock Down Drag Out" on The Green Album has:Jamie, who's faxin' you now?
Who's dialin' your car phone?
Any day now you'll call me up on the phone"Slob" on Maladroit:
Say you love me more than you ever did before
Leave me aloneIt shows up twice in the Rivers Cuomo side project Homie, and I don't have the patience to sift through his two solo home recording compilations called Alone and Alone II. Yeah, "alone" is another word that someone should take away from him.
I won't pick up the phone
That's all I've got for now. I hope this entry gets this blog some god damned hits. I've got nothing to offer the centaur porn crowd.
September 3, 2010
Before karaoke began, there was a mad rush for the books for people to find songs to sing. Kirk got hold of one and started flipping through for ideas. I told him he should just sing whatever is first in the book, then I thought about the advantages that a band would have being first in alphabetical order. Sure, your band may look like a jerky company from the yellow pages (Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa American Asshole, Inc.), but at least you're in first place before the race even starts!
I suggested that if we ever change our band name, Plowing Mud Forever, it should be to something that starts with Aardvark, but more metal sounding. I said Aardvarkadon or Aardvarkanoid or something, but neither compared to the grenade Kirk lobbed at me--Aardvarkalypse. So awesome.
I made this to go along with it:
September 2, 2010
The term has been in the lexicon for a while, so there was really nothing new to say about them. Someone then mentioned Corts, a term with which I was unfamiliar. Corts are Corduroy Shorts. Corts seem to be less ubiquitous than jorts, and even though they have earned their own portmanteau, I imagine they are way less hip.
Now I don't wear jeans, so jorts are really out of the question. I also think they look pretty stupid unless you're a lumberjack dressing down for a professional wrestling match (see also: sleeveless flannel). Corts, I'm not so sure about either. I haven't worn corduroy in quite a long time, even though two pairs of cords keep following me every time I've moved in the last 7 years. Still, I can't imagine wearing corduroy in the summer, even if it is in short form.
If you've done the math, you've probably deduced that I only wear regular or cargo pants, and predictably, all my shorts are store-bought short pants or cargo shorts. Martha, the party's hostess and longtime-reader-never-commenter, asked me why I don't rock cargo cutoffs in the summer. Well, it's mainly because there is no snazzy name assigned with cut-off cargo shorts.
Corts is obviously already taken, so I had to brainstorm a bit. I think a good name might be Escargots. "Es," short for "S," short for "Short" + "cargot," long for "cargo." I realize that escargot is already pluralized, so let's just pretend you're adding the extra "s" for "Shut up, Smartypants." S-Cargo would be more fun and less French, but as I've discovered, Nissan beat me to it 20 years ago. I guess great minds think alike. I just made that quote up too.
So I grabbed an old pair of my cargo pants with holes in the knees and chopped them up while being careful to preserve their most important feature with utmost absurdity. I glued on a beard and found a six-pack of PBR to highlight the deep, efficient pockets. Sorry, all my V-necks were in the laundry.
August 23, 2010
Every time a celebrity pipes up with an opinion or a tidbit of information, people rush to dismiss it as bullshit particularly if it is of a political nature. But, you know, celebrities they’re just like us. They’re people with valid experiences to share. People with a metric shit-ton of money and a probably distorted view of reality, BUT still, there is useful practical information to be found encoded in the drama and the pomp and the circumstance. I myself have come away with 3 lessons, over the course of my life thus far, that I have learned from celebrities. Let me share this stunning knowledge of the ages with you.
Of course, it all starts with:
1.) Madonna and one of her appearances on Letterman, the one where she talked about peeing in the shower to stave off athlete’s foot (urine talk at 3:27). It made sense to me; pee is sterile. Heck, you’re already in the shower. Why not? I played every sport in high school and was a scholarship athlete in college. I saw some funky locker rooms, and I’ve showered in some questionable places mostly without shower shoes. Instead, I pee on my feet, and I’ve never had athlete’s foot since I started doing it.
Some of you are totally grossed out right now, but, eh, I don’t care. It’s going right down the drain. I drink a lot of water; my pee does not smell like a dirty urinal in a bus station. Less mess. Less fuss. Is there any scientific evidence to support that this works? Not really, but hey, the SOS Mata Atlantic group has been trying to convince people to pee in the shower to conserve water with (I am confident in stating) the cutest cartoon ever made about pissing in the shower. Bottomline: it can’t hurt, and you’re saving the planet. Madonna I thank you for your golden wisdom.
2) Lisa Marie Presley. I find Lisa Marie an unlikely font of wisdom. She’s a Scientologist which automatically puts her on shaky footing with me. Plus, she married Michael Jackson which I find more than a little telling about her mental state and potential craziness. I’m liable to take anything LMP says with a generous grain of salt. However, I came across this Rolling Stone article about her wherein she mentions that she had been having all these health problems asthma, depression, candida infections, hypoglycemia, acid reflux, gall bladder failure, etc. After seeing a bunch of doctors and having her gall bladder removed she saw a homepathic doctor (cue the windchimes), and he said the root of her problems were stress and the mercury amalgamated fillings in her head. She took ‘em out, and poof, her health stabilized. This article came out in 2003. In 2003, I was working a super stressful job in children’s television, and I was getting crazy infections left and right. Every month, it was a new bout of candida or a bacterial infection. Now, it’s entirely possible that had something to do with my shitbag boyfriend at the time, but my gynecologist pinned it on stress. I read the article, and it was like I had been struck with a lightning bolt of wisdom. It really resonated with me. I also had about 6-8 mercury fillings in the soft tissue of my head. I was drinking a lot of hot coffee all day every day, and hot fluids are supposed to cause the fillings to offgas. I made an appointment at the dentist, and there was an immediate and marked improvement in the health of my ladyparts and my overall health in general after they were removed.
Is there a shred of medical evidence to support this? Eh, not so much according to the most reputable info I could find. However, there’s a ton of people and doctors out there railing against mercury fillings; my actual dentist at the time scoffed heavily at the whole notion and said that there’s not enough mercury in the fillings to cause such a problem and also said that taking them out can be more dangerous because you’re dislodging the mercury and some of it can circulate. So, which is it again? Not enough to cause a problem, or yeah, enough to cause a problem? Jerk. I know that I immediately felt better once that toxic crap was removed from my body. It didn’t cure the TMJ from biting my tongue and grinding my jaw in rage at the daily iniquities I encountered at that job, but it did immediately stop the monthly visits to my gyno with the chronic infections. Sadly, I continued to date the dirtbag. Bottomline: don’t put toxic metals in your body, particularly, the soft tissues of your head. Lisa Marie, we may not agree on for-profit religions made-up by schlocky scifi writers, but I and my ladybits sincerely thank you.
3) Edward Norton. To get to Edward Norton though, we have to take a detour through Courtney Love land. If you’re on twitter and you’re not following Courtney Love, stop reading this and go follow her. Immediately. I’ve always loved her nutty ass. She is a study in demonology and a bitch goddess of the highest order. I could never hang with her myspace blog post rants because they were so long and filled with poor spelling, questionable grammar, and notable for the absence of any punctuation. It made my eyes hurt. Twitter is the perfect medium for her to unleash her rantypants and her various insanities in delicious bite-size chunklets. I find her much more palatable in this format. Also, and best thing ever, she engages other celebrities on twitter and occasionally they engage her back like Billy Corgan’s recent vituperous jabs. Our girl Courtney loves to @EdwardNorton (non Twitterites read that as ‘at reply’ Edward Norton) who I guess she dated briefly at one time. I have never seen him respond on twitter to her, and I keep tabs on that shit which is how I happened to be reading through his twitterstream and came upon Fish Phone.
Have you ever been at a restaurant and wondered if the fish on the menu was sustainably harvested and/or farmed? Wonder no more! Of course, there is totally an app for that, and if you’re not on a smartphone you can text 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish in question, and BAM, you get back a full report. Wonder no more if you are a responsible consumer of our fishy friends. I think the app itself also suggests a wine pairing. All of the FishPhone info comes from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, so it’s a fairly reputable source. Bottomline: if you’re going to eat fish, you should try to do so in a sustainable way that doesn’t contribute to the destruction of the oceans. Thanks Edward Norton for making me a slightly better person.
That’s it. My purely subjective experience of the questionable WISDOM our Promethean friends have reached down from on high to impart to the world at large that I internalized with "possibly-related" positive outcomes. Have you ever learned something valuable and practical from a celebrity source and implemented it in your life? Please tell me I am not alone in my insanity.
Was this blog post worth the YEAR AND A HALF wait? Probably not, but my brain is poo poo right now. I have folded under a relentless onslaught of Dora and consider Yo Gabba Gabba high culture these days. They tell me it gets better after you stop nursing, and you become less like a little old man with dementia, but I think they lie. I chronicle my daily insanity, when I can scrape two words together, on the twitter: here.