August 30, 2003

Side A
Hugo Largo - “Second Skin”
Drop Nineteens - “Cuban”
R.E.M. - “Catapult”
Tanya Donelly - “Lantern”
Renaissance - “Trip to the Fair”
Radar Bros. - “Lose Your Face Again”
Emmylou Harris - “She”
Suzanne Vega - “The Queen and the Soldier”
Ultra Vivid Scene - “Extra Ordinary”
Simon and Garfunkle - “Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall”
Rivulets - “Barreling Towards Nowhere Like There’s No Tomorrow”
U2 - “The First Time”

Side B
Love and Rockets - “Haunted When the Minutes Drag”
Roxy Music - “Strictly Confidential”
Romeo Void - “Never Say Never”
De La Soul - “Tread Water”
Talking Heads - “Tentative Decisions”
Natacha Atlas - “When I Close My Eyes”
Blondie - “Shayla”
Lisa Germano - “Hangin’ With a Deadman”
Elvis Costello - “Shot With His Own Gun”
Morrissey - “Driving Your Girlfriend Home”

Gentry Boeckel | 10:45 pm | Comments (2)

August 29, 2003

Touch & Go
2003
{7.8}
Reviewed by: Kareem Estefan

TV on the Radio does not belong with any other band in today’s New York music scene. Despite guest appearances from members of the Liars and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Young Liars has nothing in common with these bands’ releases. It is not “post-punk modernized”, “garage punk revitalized” or any of that undesirable critic speak. TV on the Radio has made something different, with more to boast than a few fashionable influences.

In fact, attempts to pinpoint the inspiration for Young Liars are nearly futile as a result of the incredible diversity and nonconformity of the group’s influences. The Talking Heads provide the simplest reference point, if only for their similar interposition of African music and soulful vocals with pop music, but that covers a mere fraction of TV on the Radio’s sound. There’s so much more – the shuffling electronics, the unpredictable flourishes, the unusual lyrics. And that’s only the describable; there’s the magnificent minimalism that emanates from Young Liars, the sweeping sense of atmosphere, the “Wow, that’s fucking beautiful!”

All this might be alienating upon first listen. Initially, Tunde Adebimpe’s vocals irritated me, and I found the music to be interesting, but not good. One by one, though, the tracks become less challenging and more captivating, beginning with the stellar “Staring at the Sun”. Both the most accessible and the most beautiful song on Young Liars, “Staring at the Sun” opens with serene crooning accompanied by intensifying electronics. The track is blissfully uneasy throughout its duration, as described in the chorus’ lyrics: “Your mouth is opened wide/ You’re trying hard to breathe.”

Next to unfold is the opener “Satellite”, an uncharacteristically upbeat track that is deceptively simple, but reveals more with each listen. “Young Liars” and Blind” take more time than either of the aforementioned two, mainly because of their increased length and slower tempo, but are just as rewarding in the end. And even bonus track “Mr. Grieves”, a cover of the Pixies song featuring doo-wop vocals with only upright bass as musical accompaniment, is ultimately pleasing, even if it’s one of the weaker tracks from Doolittle and an incredibly odd idea.

If nothing else, “Mr. Grieves” exemplifies TV on the Radio’s complete separation from anyone else’s musical ideas. Even if one doesn’t like the track, it is easy to appreciate the band’s total originality. Young Liars is a remarkable work, thoroughly different from not only its peers, but also its influences. Hopefully, TV on the Radio’s first full-length will be only more proof of the same.

Kareem Estefan | 11:40 pm | Comments (1)

Not the band, but rather the new Basement Jaxx record. This album has those “what in the…?” moments on every single song about every 16 bars.

I had a little spot in place for it on my year-end top 20 before it leaked and it has earned its place on only five listens. Suggested tracks? Maybe “Good Luck” to get started. And…well, I won’t go down that road. It’s all good.

Todd Burns | 7:00 pm | Comments (8)

So I’m new here, and I’m trying to think of something to post on the illustrious turntable that will make sense and be music related and be as non-baffling as possible. Then I remember that I have just come from the bar, and I had been spending some of my hard-earned student money on the jukebox. Around here we get five tunes for a dollar, and of course I’m not even sure how many of us frequent places with jukeboxes. In any case, my picks for the night:

1. The Rolling Stones - ‘Jumping Jack Flash’

(gotta start with a classic, and ever since Scorsese’s ‘Mean Streets’ I’ve especially loved this one)

2. Ride - ‘Cool Your Boots’

(someone had just played ‘Not Fazed’, and this is my favorite song on that album)

3. Massive Attack - ‘Inertia Creeps’

(you could only hear the drums over the bar noise, and it still worked fine)

4. Luna - ‘1995′

(they just got ‘Romantica’ in)

5. Pavement - ‘Gold Soundz’

(nostalgia)

Anyone else hit the jukebox recently?

Ian Mathers | 1:59 am | Comments (2)

August 27, 2003

The Coral
Magic and Medicine
Deltasonic
2003
6.5

Ah, The Coral. Here’s a band who can make you believe that guitar-based indie-rock can still sound thrillingly creative and alive. Their eponymous debut threw whacked-out psychedelia, sea-shanties, polka interludes and relatively orthodox balladry into the blender - and reaped considerable critical praise with the strange concoction that emerged. But despite their admirable willingness to experiment, it remained a curiously frustrating album to actually listen to.

Why? Put simply, there weren’t enough songs to pull it fully into the territory of the classic guitar record. Each track may have been gloriously unstable, pulling in a thousand directions and potentially falling apart in glorious, Quixotic lunacy at any given moment, but as far as actual songwriting was concerned they were found wanting. Only the single “Dreaming of You” boasted a crystal-clear pop melody backed up with the focus of vision to see it through to a logical, but still charming, conclusion.

Has this been put right on the follow-up, Magic and Medicine? Well, it’s certainly an improvement. The Liverpudlian lads are certainly not sitting still with this album: it’s as far out as you’d expect. Song-wise, they’re still developing the melodic nous that could see them making something truly special, very soon.

“In The Forest” is a strong opener - full of ghostly organ and eerie ripples of guitar. James Skelley is clearly developing a great voice - richly melancholic, with a wonderfully thick Scouse accent that he’s not afraid to use. “Don’t Think You’re the First” is more typically crazed stuff: starting out like The Doors (except not as skull-crushingly awful) before losing itself in a hazey melodica and warbling flute.

Things get even stranger from here. “Secret Kiss” features more Doors-y organ and clipped guitar built around a hypnotic, Floydian motif. “Milkwood Blues” is a dirty stoner jam, climaxing with some terrifically discordant violin. Closing track “Confessions of A.D.D.D.” is a Love song submerged in electronic frippery, not dissimilar to Super Furry Animals.

Thankfully, there are also a handful of deft pop songs that give “Magic and Medicine” the edge over its predecessor. “Lieza” is a sweet acoustic tune, like the Beatles at their most twee, and “Bill McCal” is a jaunty number close in spirit to “Dreaming Of You”, although not quite possessed of that instant thrill.

The album reaches its peak two-thirds of the way through with two superlative tracks in a row. “Eskimo Lament” comes first, drenched in sombre piano and plucked guitar, before the arrival of gorgeous harmonies and trumpet flourishes. “Careless Hands” then finds Skelley sounding more like The La’s Lee Mavers than ever on a rich, mysterious ballad; the surprising, tangential detour into a frenetic outro is the album’s real magic moment.

The Coral have yet to deliver a consistently satisfying long-player, but they’re still ridiculously young, and time is on their side. This adventurous, entertaining, frequently infuriating record will suffice for now.

Killian Murphy | 6:10 pm | Comments (2)

1. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey
2. The Stone Roses - She Bangs The Drums
3. The Cure - Just Like Heaven
4. New Order - Temptation
5. The Smiths - Ask
6. Lush - Sweetness and Light [Shields Mix]
7. Magnetic Fields - When My Boy Walks Down The Street
8. Olivia Tremor Control - Love Athena
9. Blur - For Tomorrow [Primrose Hill Extended Mix]
10. Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945
11. Basement Jaxx - Jus 1 Kiss
12. Blur - Ambulance
13. Liars - Rose and Licorice
14. Dismemberment Plan - The City
15. Mogwai - 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
16. Disco Inferno - Second Language
17. Primal Scream - MBV Arkestra (If They Move, ‘Kill Em)

1. Roxy Music - Re-make Re-model
2. The Faint - Glass Danse
3. Ladytron - Seventeen
4. Enon - Disposable Parts
5. New Pornographers - Letter From An Occupant
6. The Shins - Kissing The Lipless
7. Talking Heads - Thank You For Sending Me An Angel
8. Wire - Ex-Lion Tamer
9. Talk Talk - Life’s What You Make It
10. Lush - Undertow
11. M83 - Unrecorded
12. Yo La Tengo - Autumn Sweater
13. Joy Division - Transmission
14. Blur - Trimm Trabb
15. My Bloody Valentine - Map Reference 41N 93W
16. The Boo Radleys - Lazarus
17. Pulp - Common People
18. Modern Lovers - I’m Straight
19. Felt - Primitive Painters

Samuel Bloch | 2:29 am | Comments (6)

August 26, 2003

Virgin
2003
{8.0}

Holy smoke – it’s time to rock out. The traditionally ‘difficult’ sophomore album hangs like a spectre over many bands. You had ages to hone your perfect debut, and what seems like moments to craft its successor. But our black-clad stone cold foxes emerge from a dingy east London shoebox studio – leaving the bloodied carcass of debut ‘BRMC’ behind – with the triumphant roar of Take Them On, On Your Own. Like the gawky teen-ager who comes back from the summer vacation a fully formed man; this offering is muscular, mature – and ready for action.

If the last one was all about shoe gazing awkward shyness, this is all about snake-hipped swagger. Their previously pining laments to women are replaced by a “get your coat love - you’ve pulled” bravado. And with their newly found confidence comes an easy shedding of their obvious influences. If you were hoping for more Jesus and Mary Chain redux, you better keep moving. Instead what we have here is knee-deep in dirty blues-based bar rock with hooks thick enough to hang sides of beef on.

Lyrically, it still remains somewhat unchallenging – but the music! Yes! Yes! Yes! The music is the main element. Peter Hayes’s guitar reverb curls round your thighs, wraps round your chest and pulls tighter and harder than the best lover you’ve ever been lucky enough to bed. And while Nick Jago’s drumming would benefit from more practice on fills and less on banging away at the high-hat, it still provides the purring engine that drives this beautiful machine. It all starts in hammering style with ‘Stop’ and refuse to let up. Yes, “Six Barrel Shotgun” rehashes the hook from breakthrough track “Punk Song” but who the hell cares when the hook is this good? Even when they take it down a notch on “Shade of Blue”, its hypnotic bass plunk morphing into arced guitar wails, or the lush acoustic balladry on “And I’m Aching”, our trio can’t put an effect or a chord wrong. Finishing off with the shimmering, glittering hollowed out feeling “Heart + Soul”Ł - which kinda sounds like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” if Ian Curtis rocked instead of reeled.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to reason out why this works so well. It’s neither novel nor that innovative. It’s just rock music. And maybe that’s it. Its straightforward, balls-to-the-walls coming-right-at-ya sound is so easy to digest, especially in this current culture of retro style over substance half-wits. But these guys are simply pure of heart and loud of amp. Worship them here. Now.

Administrator | 12:21 pm | Comments Off

Suction
2003
{7.5}

Snow Robots volume 3 finds Jason Amm (aka Suction) and Gregory de Rocher (aka Lowfish), co-founders of Toronto-based Suction Records, once again proudly proclaiming their love for ‘Robot Music.’ In the liner notes, they even include a generous list of keywords reviewers have used to describe the label’s synth pop since its inception in 1997, some of which inarguably hit the mark: analog, Aphex Twin, Depeche Mode, drum machines, electropop, Giorgio Moroder, Human League, New Order, nostalgic, OMD, Kraftwerk, Soft Cell, and vocoder. Other keywords, like Autechre, Boards of Canada, and Tangerine Dream, seem tangential, or at least do so with respect to the music on display here. As Amm and de Rocher include no editorial commentary with the list, one wonders if they’re in agreement with it, or whether they look upon the variety of responses their music has elicited over the years with a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek bemusement. No answer is provided, but there’s no disputing the fact that Suction embraces (detractors would say exhumes) a genre niche which is becoming more uniquely its own and, judging by its schedule of future releases, will become more so in the year ahead. Part of the reason for this is that electronic artists like Autechre have abandoned their relatively straightforward, beat-oriented analogue beginnings for more experimental forms, whereas Amm and de Rocher shy away from such stylistic abstractions to instead fervently promote an earlier electronic style.

The major stumbling block, then, for Suction is to convince listeners that the label is not merely retro. While the label carries on with a musical genre that was associated originally with pioneers Warp and Rephlex in the early ‘90s, Andrew Weatherall, for one, argues that Suction ransacks the past to create an Electro New Wave music for the future. Naturally, Amm and de Rocher also contend that Suction not only represents an embrace of the past, but instead offers a forum for their music’s resurgence today and times to come. In short, the label positions itself strategically to be seen as a midwife of sorts for an assumed re-emergence of melodic synth pop. In keeping with that theme, unlike the first two Snow Robots compilations released in 2000 which looked back upon the label’s first three years of existence, the new one looks forward and highlights the label’s coming year. The comp is therefore a promo of sorts, with seven tracks appetizers for future releases joined by six exclusives. The most conspicuous change is the greater presence of vocals, typically vocodered, on the new collection. Ultimately, Suction’s claim to be future-oriented convinces more in terms of marketing, label production and planning, as the aural evidence certainly situates its music stylistically in a former era. Having said that, whether their music is future-oriented or retro is rather incidental, when obviously it’s the quality of the music alone which either will argue for or against it, regardless of the associative era. And judging by incredibly crafted and melodic songs like Orgue Electronique’s ‘The Plot’ and Solvent’s ‘For You,’ the music is very good indeed.

Past Snow Robots contributors Lowfish, Solvent, David Kristian, GD Luxxe, Skanfrom, and Tinfoil Teakettle reappear, joined by new recruits The Mitgang Audio (Mitgang Bevilacqua), Orgue Electronique (Brian Chinetti), Laurent Boudic, and Black Turtleneck. (Incidentally, Amm and de Rocher’s involvement extends beyond curating the release and creating Solvent and Lowfish tracks. The duo also constitutes Tinfoil Teakettle, and Amm pairs with Thomas Sinclair in Black Turtleneck.) Those expecting to hear elements of microhouse, glitch, or DSP will be disappointed, as will those looking for tech-house or Kompakt’s Cologne sound. Snow Robots volume 3 is classic synth-pop, song-based machine music teeming with melodic hooks, admittedly a description that could just as easily describe Kraftwerk’s music. Like so many, Amm and de Rocher are indebted to their German brethren, but, while the Suction style does emit a similarly glossy sheen, it’s less grandiose, more relaxed by comparison. Highlights abound, including the soaring melodies and grinding bass synths on The Mitgang Audio’s disco-flavoured ‘Minor Causes,’ the melancholy pop of Lowfish’s ‘Glass House,’ the dark electro of David Kristian’s ‘Lectrocured,’ and the Futurism machine-funk of Laurent Boudic’s ‘E=MC2’ (apparently recorded in 1981). Other tracks suggest that Suction’s list of keywords needs to be expanded to include some new influences. While the vocals on GD Luxxe’s funky ‘Compulsion’ suggest Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, those on Black Turtleneck’s ‘Store Front’ sound like a curious vocal mixture of Soft Cell’s Marc Almond and Brian Eno (circa Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy). The strongest track is Tinfoil Teakettle’s manifesto-like ‘Think Like Us’ which evokes Prince’s ‘I Would Die 4 U’ in its verses’ declamatory style, and even inserts ‘You got it’ from The Talking Heads’ ‘(Nothing But) Flowers’ into its chorus. ‘Think Like Us’ is not only infectiously funky, it looks backward with affection while charting a powerful plea for a shared future—quintessential ‘Robot Music’ in an inimitable Suction style.

Ron Schepper | 12:17 pm | Comments Off

August 25, 2003

Me: Hey bitch. Bryony still hasn’t texted me. Bank Holiday Mondays are shit. What are some good words to use in a metal review?

Steve: Thunderous. Chugging. Headfuck. Grindcore. Dio.

Dom Passantino | 5:56 pm | Comments Off

August 24, 2003

Eva Cassidy is number one in the album chart. Are you thrilled? Why?

New entries outside the top 20: Grafiti #37 (The Streets fused with Flat Eric. Horrid); The Raveonettes #34 (surprisingly rather ace Danish guitar duo, bit Christmas single-y but that is no bad thing); Queens Of The Stone Age #33 (decent enough drawly metal); Billy Joseph #32 (rubbish Timberlake aping); Mark Joseph #28 (rubbish Ten Sharp aping); and Dave Gahan #27 (just rubbish generally).

XTM ARE NOT IN THE TOP TWENTY ANYMORE!!! But Wes plays it in full anyway and skips Evanescence. Like the shite he is.

But though we have lost them, we must still forge ever onwards…

20) RICHARD X ft. KELIS – Finest Dreams

This is sounding fantastic this week. I’m singing along to it. Kelis is great, isn’t she? Crikey. XTM leaving the top 20 must have had a massive liberating effect, like I no longer have to worry about its impending arrival in my ears… this is great. Brill.

19) BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB – Stop (NEW ENTRY)

Oh dear, no, it’s not working anymore. Rubbish-o drone-o… I quite liked their first album and everything. But after a while, it just bores you to bits – “We don’t know where to stop.” No, but that’s your problem, please don’t make it mine…

18) DANIEL BEDINGFIELD – Never Gonna Leave Your Side

Ah Jesus. It’s the Cheeky Girls next, isn’t it? Honestly, some weeks you wonder why you bother…

17) DIZZEE RASCAL – Fix Up Look Sharp (NEW ENTRY)

Brurrh. What happened there? On the one hand I feel I should be rather delighted that something this odd has made it into the top 20 (AND the b-list on Radio 1), and there’s no denying that the man has an amazing voice and that vocally this track is compelling as anything… but that beat feels like it’s utterly derailed it, all clodhoppery and stuff, makes it drag on a lot. Appreciated it, but not necessarily enjoyed. Hmm.

16) BEYONCE KNOWLES – Crazy In Love

And at the other end of the scale… I’m enjoying this this week. Why, I wonder?

15) CHEEKY GIRLS – Hooray Hooray (It’s A Cheeky Holiday)

Oh yeah, cos this was still to come. “It’s summer time and we feel great!” Sadism truly crosses into the mainstream, then.

14) D. KAY & EPSILON ft. STAMINA MC – Barcelona (NEW ENTRY)

Ooh. This is rather good, isn’t it? Sort of drum & bass lite stuff, that does actually sound properly sunny and everything. Vocals a bit anonymous, but that’s not really the point – he sings the hook well enough, it’s all clicking along very well in the background and should probably have been a lot bigger than this. But hey. Enjoy it while it lasts.

13) FO’REAL (for verily, he is the truth) ft. JAY-Z – Frontin’

New hilarity – about thirty seconds in, someone in the background whispers “So sexy” in this impossibly pervy manner. That’ll keep me giggling for a fair bit… and the tune’s a solid one too. It’s all lovely right now…

12) RADIOHEAD – Go To Sleep (NEW ENTRY)

Thom Yorke yodels the body electro. Bit of guitar solo, bit of jangle riff… actually, quite poppy, which is a bit of a surprise. Nothing like as horrid as it should have been.

11) THE LIBERTINES – Don’t Look Back Into The Sun (NEW ENTRY)

Also, this is tons better than it should have been too. True, you can spot the influences/burglees from a mile off (that riff sounds like it got nicked off the theme tune to the London Programme, if you remember that), but it all kicks along very well, very jangly, very summery, very singalong-y – the bits where he yelps are crap, though, and it loses it towards the end, but there are billions of songs a lot worse than this. Which reminds me – still got Busted to look forward to. Oh poo.

So here’s the top ten, and after all those new entries lower down, there’s only three left. This trailer helpfully reminds us that they include Good Charlotte. Bastards.

10) GOOD CHARLOTTE – The Anthem (NEW ENTRY)

Speak of the devil, and he doth appear. It’s about smashing the system, about not getting a proper job. It sounds like Sum 41 with electric bits. The man’s voice is the least bearable this side of Dryden Mitchell and Kelly Jones, probably even less so. They cleverly nick a Linkin Park riff, possibly for satire. See, cos Linkin Park are horrific also. Yes. Please, all this cleverness makes my head hurt…

9) STACIE ORRICO – Stuck

In a week in which most of the reliable old stagers take big falls, this goes up two. Which suggests it will be around ages. Which is fantastic, cos it sounds even badder, bigger, and betterer this week, with the chorus in particular kicking supreme arse. Maybe this week will turn out right after all, then.

8) MARK OWEN – Four Minute Warning

I’m not sure I like this anymore. I’m feeling weird this afternoon, but the lyrics are that bad that I’m wondering… seriously. “In his hand he was clutching a fable/Able.” And yet there’s something so likeable about it… gnrrrgh.

7) JAIMESON – Complete

Oh, I have a new hero. I still think the song is rubbish, but the interview beforehand just gave me such new respect for the man, if only because I’m not sure I’ve ever heard someone have such utter distaste for Wes.

WES: “Jamie Williams, 27…”

JAIMESON: “You might wanna change that. I’m 28 now.”

WES: “So obviously we know you for True, and for your new hit, Complete…”

JAIMESON: “Yes, Complete, with the lovely Zara on vocals.”

WES: “Yes, so where did you find Zara?”

JAIMESON: “Well –“

WES: “Because on this track she does the, er, vocals.”

JAIMESON: (and you can practically see him trying not to punch Wes by this point) “Yeah.”

God love the man.

6) BUSTED – Sleeping With The Light On

And typing all of that meant I missed all of this. Dang.

5) LUMIDEE – Never Leave You (Uh Oooh)

You can practically set your watch by this happening now. Still, that chorus, though. Great. Won’t ever be this big again, probably, but never mind.

4) ULTRABEAT – Pretty Green Eyes

Now removed from its duties as the Martin Peters to Blu & Sean’s Geoff Hurst last week, this loses a wee bit of the lustre. And we realise it’ll probably be around for a fair while. Oh well. Still, ta for last week and all that.

3) GIRLS ALOUD – Life Got Cold (NEW ENTRY)

I’ve been trying to review this album. God, it’s tricky. There’s so much you could say… but not much of it concerns this song, really. Of their slower numbers, it would be the most obvious single, but it’s a bit dull. Lots of comment about how soulless modern life is and stuff, but I dunno. It’s OK, but their next single is Some Kind Of Miracle, and that really is something very, very special indeed. But this will do for now.

2) LEMAR – Dance (With U) (NEW ENTRY)

This, however, is brilliant. Lemar has pretty much worked this perfectly – he presumably got his record deal off the back of Fame Academy, but chose not to ride on its coat-tails, waiting a good few months before getting his single out. Think he’s the first of the former FA students to make the Radio 1 playlist too… and the song’s excellent as well, unashamed 80’s soul revival, throbbing bass, plucked guitars, and his voice is fantastic, smooth but with feeling, shifting up and down with astounding ease, nothing sounds strained, the ‘dance, dance, dance’ digitised vocal hook is catchy as anything, chorus is lovely… this is amazing. Get it.

1) BLU CANTRELL & SEAN PAUL – Breathe

And so it continues, bit less glorious than last week cos they are actually keeping a better record off the top… but they interviewed Blu beforehand, and it was yet another Wes squirmathon, as she purred “I’m sooooo surrrprrrisssed!” when he informed her that this was her fourth week at number one (didn’t inform her that Radio 1 still haven’t playlisted the song or such, though). And that made it far more enjoyable, really. Even caught myself singing along a bit. Still, next week it’s likely that it’ll all end, cos Elton John will probably be number one. But it was faaaabulous while it lasted…

William B. Swygart | 9:36 pm | Comments (1)

Hausmusik
2003
{8.0}

The headphones cover image on Iso68’s Here There suggests misleadingly that its contents might be German techno. In fact, its sonic palette encompasses glitchy electronica, microsampling, post-rock, acoustic jazz, and even elegant chamber music. Iso68’s two members, Thomas Leboeg and Florian Zimmer (Lali Puna’s keyboardist), are joined on the group’s third full-length by acoustic bassist Robert Klinger, a three-piece string section, and Eva Baierlipp’s sultry voice contributions. The group’s romantic, organic fusion of acoustic and electronic musics exudes an evocative noir-like European flavour.

Here There’s seven tracks weigh in at a succinct forty-one minutes. The satisfying ‘Cosmic Bones’ starts things off in a fairly conventional electronica style, until eventually the percussion, bass, and piano combine to create a latin-jazz feel. The first major departure from the electronica norm arrives with the second song, ‘Stoppages/Est Plus,’ which adheres more to a ‘60s Euro-jazz style and conjures images of a late summer night at a Paris café. Piano, drums, and an hypnotic acoustic bass vamp form a lovely languid backing for Baierlipp’s French spoken word passages, while electronics appear as bubbling background texture for gorgeous layers of melodies. The stunning ‘Diffusion Cappric.’ follows. It begins atmospherically in Jan Jelinek territory with a tactile base of hiss accompanied by bass, electric piano sprinkling, and subtle cymbal accents. It suddenly takes an aggressive post-rock turn with the addition of a ride cymbal, drums, and scratching noises until poignant melody lines appear, played by what sounds like strings paired with woodwinds. The later ‘Moontrain/Here There’ evidences a similar kind of artistry. Its DSP opening of textured crackles and surging drone changes character to become a swinging jazz-blues courtesy of piano, acoustic bass, and Baierlipp’s hazy voice. Soon after, glistening tones are added and electronic textures once again appear, steadily growing in volume and dominance. Tracks like ‘Diffusion Cappric.’ and ‘Moontrain/Here There’ demonstrate Iso68’s superior handling of compositional shifts. The other tracks impress too, each distinguished by the same ease with which the group draws upon myriad styles. The bass piano keys and bass on ‘Stargardt,’ for instance, combine for a duet that suggests a rumba feel.

On Here There, Leboeg and Zimmer have created seven immaculate tracks which give the impression that they were created effortlessly, as opposed to being painstakingly composed and constructed. The duo exemplifies a tasteful command of texture and arrangement, knowing exactly when to add, say, a particular percussion pattern and when to shift stylistic gears. Perhaps the closest group analogues to Iso68 might be To Rococo Rot (whose music also marries electronics and acoustic elements to through-composed pieces) and Dictaphone (who specializes in an equally compelling fusion of moody, 60s-era Parisian jazz and glitch-based electronics). Regardless, with Here There Leboeg and Zimmer have fashioned a compositionally compelling work that is distinguished most memorably by its bold stylistic expansiveness.

Ron Schepper | 9:32 pm | Comments Off

Jetset
2003
{5.0}

Firewater is an odd band, a bundle of contradictions, a curious attempt to fuse radio-ready hard rock with more arty and scattered influences, and the fact that it works even half the time is, frankly, staggering. Formed by ex-Cop Shoot Cop bassist Tod A., the band integrates an intriguing mix of hard rock, punk, pop, (and here’s where it gets really odd) klezmer, Tom Waits, and circus music, all in a sound that somehow never strays far from the eminently listenable. At times, the band seems too content to simply veer back and forth between styles from track to track, never really blending it all together in a way that feels natural — the confusion of styles does create a satisfyingly jarring, swirling carnival atmosphere, though, and if the record never quite coheres as a whole, there’s plenty of dazzling spectacles to behold along the way.

The brightest of these gems is, without a doubt, “Dark Days Indeed,” a satisfyingly raved-up klezmer stomp with insistent accordion riffs, ethnic guitar, snapping percussion, and Tod A.’s gruff, world-weary vocals. His lyrics bring to mind Tom Waits, painting detailed (but never as detailed as Waits at his most poetic) portraits of down-and-out loser characters, while his gravelly rasp sounds a bit like the Black Rider in his younger years. The spirited gypsy riot of “Dark Days,” with its infectious shout-along group chants, belies the grim subject matter, and it’s a breakneck romp that’s easily the most fun and exciting song on the album.

This standout is followed immediately by the title track, a full-on circus theme that musically summons the image of a precariously balanced tightrope walker about to fall to his doom, as Tod A.’s deadpan circus barker drawls out the lyrics, his voice dripping with barely veiled sarcasm and sinister glee. Other songs similarly employ this kind of slightly kitschy instrumentation, and it’s a quirky style that Firewater are particularly great at nailing to the wall. “The Notorious Dog & Pony Show” slows things down to a stop-start barroom crawl that sounds like an Old West piano balladeer augmented by a badly awry modern bar band, while “The Vegas Strip” appropriately houses big, sappy Wayne Newton arrangements in a punky stomper.

When the band plays it straighter, though, they’re not quite as successful. “Anything At All” is one of the few exceptions, an insistent Alice In Chains-ish rocker powered by warm keyboards Tod A.’s best vocals on the album, and a killer bridge where everything cuts out save a heavenly-sounding keyboard choir and Tod’s distant-sounding vox. On the bland “Don’t Make It Stop,” though, the band skips over AIC and heads straight for their imitators with a meaningless chant backed by crunchy guitars — can you say “grab for radio?” And “Too Much (Is Never Enough)” is a bit too close to Smashmouth for comfort, though the distorted recorder solo is a nice touch. The rest of the album is often simply pleasant but unexceptional, as with the somewhat boring “Too Many Angels” (which nonetheless boasts fine production) or the brief acoustic ballad “The Song That Saved My Life.” The album also ends with what’s essentially an extended coda of half-songs, including a light-hearted instrumental reprise of “Dark Days Indeed” (they must’ve known it was their best song), and two more undistinguished circus music instrumentals.

The Man On the Burning Tightrope is an incredibly confounding album. The highs are very high, the lows are absolutely miserable, and this is a band clearly capable of much, much more. The problem seems to be that the band is never really embracing the inherent weirdness of their sound. Their pop sensibilities, when put to good use, temper the weirdness of a song like “Dark Days Indeed” with vibrant melodies and clever arrangements, and the result is a joy. The rest of the time, though, they play it safe, throwing out radio-friendly rock that hardly fits the drunken, hallucinatory, kaleidoscopic image formed by the band’s best material. Not un-coincidentally, “Dark Days” is also the song where all the band’s disparate influences and styles seem to come together in one place. The rest of the record splits everything apart — the circus on this track, hard rock on the next, goth ballad on the next — fracturing a potentially unique composite sound into merely the sum of its uneven parts.

Ed Howard | 9:27 pm | Comments Off

In which the band constructs a song that is so obviously going for the heartstrings right at the time in my life when I can’t help but be caught up in the lyrical content.

I suppose it’s my fault for following it up on a mix with Elbow’s “Switching Off,” but I will take no responsibility for my actions.

Todd Burns | 7:30 pm | Comments (4)

August 20, 2003

I thought I would make my first post a controversial one. Start as you mean to go on and all that right? Here goes. I hate both the Beatles and Radiohead.

Wait! Come back! Hear me out.

The Beatles. Yes, no one can deny their importance. Yes, they have spawned countless derivative bands. Yes, they ebbed and flowed with the times and, in many ways, helped to define a generation. But that was then. Its time to get the fuck over them. Especially you rabid fans out there – and you know who you are. There are so many others – Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Prince and even REM (to name a few) that are just as seminal, and more importantly, inspire people to make music, as opposed to encouraging hacky imitation. Think of the Beatles like that little totem of an ex that you keep for torturing yourself with. You need to acknowledge the demon and then set it free.

Radiohead. This is more personal than professional. Their first hit was a novelty song – which immediately gets my back up. Took me until 3 years ago to even consider that Beck may have a modicum of talent. When I realised what a big huge ass I had been for dismissing him on the flimsiest of criteria – I recanted with humility. I thought that perhaps I had been wrong about Thom Yorke and his crew, so I revisited this chestnut of potential further muso humiliation.

Turns out – I still didn’t like ‘em.

And I have tried. I put ‘Kid A’ on heavy rotation and was determined to ‘get it’. I never did. All my guy friends said ‘you need to listen to ‘OK Computer’ – that’ll learn ya.’ It didn’t. ‘Oh ‘The Bends’…that will convert you.’ Nope. It’s all too sterile, too in-the-head. It doesn’t give me anything to connect with. To me - it just sounds like guys who holed up in a studio and cranked shit out until their eyes bled from too much darkness/cigarettes/lack of human contact. One my friends got a new totally tripped out stereo system. He uses ‘Hail to the Thief’ as one of his ‘reference pieces’ to highlight how great the thing sounds. That about sums it up for me – boys and their toys.

Commence rebuttal. And bloodbath.

Lisa Oliver | 12:44 pm | Comments (7)

August 19, 2003

The Lene in question is Lene Nystrom, formerly singer with that most peculiar of Eurocheesers, Aqua. Apparently she used to be a commando in the Norwegian Army too. Now she is one of the minor battalion of assorted pop-types that scribe for Girls Aloud (she being one of about ten people that had a hand in No Good Advice [DISCLAIMER: I am rubbish at counting]).

Oh, and she’s still doing the whole making music thing too. Which is to rather understate the weirdo genius of It’s Your Duty, a pop song that’s not quite as cheesy as Aqua had a tendency to be, but likely to inspire just as much venom. The backing is actually rather similar to Girls Aloud, weirdly enough, but it’s the vocals where this song really stands apart.

To be blunt, Ms Nystrom Is Gonna Sex You Up, and you are either going to feel extremely awkward about this, or dance like a nerk then pretend that you’re being ‘ironic’. It’s the way she smirks through the chorus as she mangles the rhyme up - “It’s your doo-deh doo-deh!/To shake that boo-deh boo-deh!” When she hits the now-obligatory semi-spoken “You like that? Okay!” overdub, she ain’t trying to sound sultry, she bloody well IS sultry. This is not a put-up job, this is not trying ’sexy’ on for size, This Is How Lene Nystrom Is, and this is how her music sounds.

And that would be, relentless. The plot of the song is about utilising your physicality to get ahead in life “Handcuff up your boss/Yeah be rough/He might like it, like it/He’ll get a rise, you’ll get a raise/Don’t tell his wife about it!” The delivery is in your face to the point of its nose rubbing your tonsils. There is no disagreeing. You wanna sneer, the Stereophonics would like to hear from you.

Great song though it is, what’s gonna be even greater is watching what happens when it eventually does hit the airwaves, the shelves, etc. The pop ironists will love it, if only for the repeated references to “Boo-deh!” Students will grind drunkenly on each other’s legs, then the morning after they will laugh at how ‘crap’ it is and listen to Coldplay instead. The radio will ride it for all it’s worth, then they’ll say how ‘crap’ it is and play something credible like Coldplay instead. There will probably be a minor uproar about the allusions to erections. People will laugh embarrasedly. It will be massive.

Hey, it’s the new Bring Me To Life!

And it’s every bit as brilliant. God bless it.

William B. Swygart | 3:16 pm | Comments (2)

August 16, 2003

On Thursday a few friends and I drove up to Duluth for a little overnight roadtrip before we all head our own ways at the end of the month. On Friday night after dinner we walked downtown to the Canal Park area. It was 9pm and there were still young kids rollerblading around town. We wandered aimlessly for awhile and then stopped at this small 50s gas station turned maltshop. My friend flirted with the ice cream girls (if it weren’t for his somewhat comical appearence he would have suffered many a slaps in the face in his life, this time being no different) and then we walked some more until I spotted a DJ playing a set outside this restaurant in a little ground floor patio. He was playing Kraftwerk. We sat down on a bench next to him (outside the small waist high fence enclosure.) I looked to the DJ’s right and standing next to him was a guy who looked like Alan Sparhawk from Low. So I say to my friend to ask him if he is in the band Low and when I turn back to get another look, his wife Mimi is standing next to them, and I’m positive
it’s them. My friend is the complete opposite of me and has no shame or qualms about embarrassing himself or saying the wrong thing, so he stands up and the little convo was something to the affect of:

Danny: (Looks at Alan) Are you in the band Low?
Alan: (Smiles) No, but she is. (Points to his wife)
(Pause)
Danny: (Obviously with nothing else to say) I’m starstruck right now.
Alan: (Smiles) Oh, thanks.
(Long Pause)
Danny: (Looks at the DJs Radiohead t-shirt) Down with Radiohead. (Gives the thumbs down sign)
Alan: Why?
Danny: Hail to the Thief? (Thumbs down again) I’m pro-Bush.
Alan: What? What’s that? (That loud music must have diminished his hearing)
Danny: Pro-Bush
Alan: (Walks over to the railing) What?
Danny: Pro-Bush!
Alan: Oh, well everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

During this entire exchange, I of course sat in half embarassingment, half awe. It’s so great to see that the band hasn’t taken off to California. They just hang around Duluth like anyone else. I wonder if many people approach them as fans or just as fellow Duluthians. Everything preceding that encounter paled in importance; being accosted by a female native American whino, the antique store with books and nacks scattered with willful abandon all over the massive store (I got some old 50s comics and books for 50 cents), the Duluth branch Electric Fetus, swimming in Lake Superior, and definitely the Black Bear casino. None of it compared to seeing my slightly overweight Asian friend hector Low.

Gentry Boeckel | 11:23 pm | Comments (1)

August 15, 2003

Well, I, for one, have been waiting. Big Star is my Beatles, my Byrds, my Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Alex Chilton will forever remain my teen idol, no matter how old or dilapidated he gets. Power-pop is the gift he bestowed on an audience that never thanked him.

As anyone who’s heard “Third/Sister Lovers” can attest, Alex has a hyperneurotic penchant for self-destruction. Nonetheless, this album full of false-starts and sabotaged melodies is still full of heartbreaking whiteboy soul and is monumentally essential. So Alex, why have I turned a deaf ear to your solo recordings? Alex, you have too pure a heart to completely destroy your knack–your GIFT–for melody, right?

And yet Alex’s solo records–”Like Flies on Sherbert”, “No Sex”, “Loose Shoes Tight Pussy”–are critically reviled.

I only raise the issue because my teen idol is playing at a nearby club tomorrow night. Alex’s solo shows are notoriously finicky affairs. Sometimes he’ll barrel his way through a set of solo ditties and arcane covers, hardly passionate and only mildly interested in his audience. Occasionally, though, he’ll pepper his set with Big Star classics, gleefully exorcising his demons and illuminating his pop genius.

Is it worth the risk? Can I bear witness to my superhero turned drunken buffoon? Perhaps not, but can I bear missing Alex caught in a moment of inspiration, on a flight of fancy while recreating some of the greatest pop songs of the modern era?

For me, as for Paul Westerberg, it all boils down to this: “I’m in love/with that song.” Sometimes, love hurts.

Akiva Gottlieb | 3:07 am | Comments (1)

August 14, 2003

A friend and I have had an ongoing discussion for the last year or so. He says I think there’s nothing going on in new music – I say he thinks there’s more going on in new music than there really is. I’m thinking back particularly to when we were comparing notes on our respective Best Of lists from 2002; while I ended up submitting only 10 records for my Stylus Top 20, he was struggling with what to leave off his list.

It set up what often became a pissing match. We’re entering a new age of music, he would say, with so many different artists recording so many different kinds of music on so many different labels. Spoon, Max Tundra, The Walkmen, Blackalicious – it was exciting! “I guess,” I told him. I wasn’t sold – I thought, well, there’s a lot of good music for sure (Max Tundra Mastered By Guy At the Exchange, in particular, scored five giggles on the ol’ Fun-O-Meter). But were there any stone-cold works of drooling, sloppy genius that we’d even remember, much less be blathering on about in ten years? I wasn’t so sure.

My argument centered around Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – a record I resented so much that I tried to keep it from topping Stylus’s list by giving nearly all my points to other, well-loved Stylus favorites (I failed). We didn’t really disagree on the face of it, more or less agreeing that YHF was a perfectly fine record under most circumstances. But as the most critically lauded record of the year, I fucking loathed it. YHF represented everything I believed independent pop music had become: melodically serviceable though far from outstanding, moderately experimental though fairly tame in execution, “emotional” yet far from heartbreaking, and heavily reliant on a big dollop of critical buzz and one or two big influences. In other words, fine in a boring and familiar kind of way. Or maybe terrible in a very, very intriguing way. I’m still not sure.

Okay, so now it’s 2003 and even though we haven’t talked about it in awhile, I’m still feeling like this dispute with my friend hasn’t been resolved. Four Tet’s powerfully average Rounds is on track to be The Most Euphorically Overhyped Record of this year (and I really, really want to believe all that crap about the “breathtaking melodies” hidden somewhere in those 2-second loops – I just…don’t). Dizzee Rascal’s doing a New Wave Tricky rap and King Geedorah’s got endless Ernie Isley loops.

Then it started to hit me recently: my friend and I are both music critics. Unlike your regular consumer or pop music enthusiast, there’s a rather questionable incentive on both sides to unearth a “real” reaction – to fashion an outlook that takes us out of the doldrums of having to come up with a fresh opinion of some sort. That’s not a criticism of his writing or my own – I’m saying that given the sheer volume of what’s out today, you need a reason to keep going. To keep thinking. In one sense, you build a series of boxes in which to file them way. But in another, you create your own world. He might disagree, but in the most basic sense, my friend is looking at the pop music scene almost like a cook or a chemist would, investigating how various ingredients—genres, artists and influences—interact when mixed – though he seems most excited when outcomes are unexpected, quite unscientific.

By comparison, I’m finding myself less interested in process, becoming one of those bearded, paunchy historian-types on Ken Burns documentaries who pride themselves on knowing everything about something – often something random. And nothing new measures up. It’s as if I’m almost trying to find The Next Great Masterpiece by reverse engineering the last one. And thus far, it doesn’t seem to work.

In any event, in the case of New V. Old, Good V. Great, no one seems to have emerged victorious. I’m expecting it’ll take a bit. There’s no Supreme Court for this sort of thing.

Matthew Weiner | 1:44 pm | Comments (8)

August 13, 2003

Both my review of From Monument to Masses and Gentry’s IM post below have gotten me to thinking quite a bit more about the role of politics within music. It’s an incredibly touchy subject, in my opinion, which led my review to start off with almost a disclaimer of sorts- “read about their politics here, I will not be talking about agreeing or disagreeing with the possibility of large-scale social change within the context of this review.” It was obviously the safe move, ushering that whole issue off to the side, especially in the service of not taking the easy tack of agreeing or disagreeing vehemently with the voices involved in the process of the record and letting it affect, somehow, the rating of the record. But should it? Should a band who is overtly political allow their music to come under fire from a critic who doesn’t share their views on the world? Or should the entire thing be divorced from one another, as I tried to do, in the hopes of merely explaining what it is and what sort of aural effect it has on the proceedings and then not factoring this into the final judgment? Obviously for Gentry this might be easy with Godspeed You Black Emperor!…don’t go to their live shows if you don’t want to ever have to hear them spout off about politics. But when it’s so tightly intertwined and so up-front and personal and inescapable…well…what then?

Todd Burns | 6:50 pm | Comments (2)

August 11, 2003

re: nick’s recent Idiology post.

awesome, man, awesome. that album has to be one of my favorite albums ever, and certainly my favorite electronic album. it’s so varied, so all-over-the-place, which i think is very appealing in a record: when it can be so stylistically diverse without sounding haphazard. it works because they’re simply amazing, and they can do pretty much whatever they want and make it sound like gold. oh, and as todd and i were discussing tonight, you can pretty much add “fucking great” into any positive comment/review whenever the mood hits, and it’ll be cool.

Ed Howard | 11:52 pm | Comments (1)

Is this an impossibility? Now that I’m back living at home, I find myself increasingly having to defend my taste against the assaults of my father and brother. They both approach it in different ways: my dad goes for the gentle mocking, while my brother seems to take personal offense at the fact that I’m listening to sine waves or industrial clatter or what-have-you. And I’m growing increasingly frustrated with trying to put into words why, say, free jazz is a good thing and not just a bunch of drunk guys blowing kazoos on New Year’s Eve (which, I shit you not, is how my dad described this Albert Ayler album I had on just recently). Or, even more challenging, explaining/justifying my recent fascination with the Erstwhile catalogue and electroacoustic improv and noise in general. Not that I need to rationalize this stuff, and more often than not I just shrug it off with an offhand “I just like it, OK,” but it does make me think.

What is it that I like about this music? As a reviewer, it’s ostensibily my job (responsibility?) to describe what I like about music, and I find that sometimes I am happy with how I get those sentiments across in writing, but I can seldom translate my passion about a particular piece of music into a coherent spoken conversation. Maybe it’s just that speech is so much less formal than the written word, so much less receptive to the kinds of overblown descriptors that comprise the majority of my musical writing. Whatever the reason, I have a very hard time vocalizing my love for music in a way that will get through to other people.

I can’t help but think that this links back somehow to some comments in Joe Panzer’s hilarious top ten from a while back, about some awkward conversations of a similar kind trying to explain music to his roommates. Maybe I’m just a hopeless dork. Whatever.

…Not to completely change directions (OK, so I am), but there’s a song on the new The Blow album that’s just completely great. It’s called “What Tom Said About Girls,” and it’s quavering pretty close to hip-hop for an album released on K Records (not that Murder Inc. has anything to worry about, mind you). It kinda reminds me of that hip-hop-type song that Kyle Fields did on the last Microphones record, except done really, really right. It takes away the slight tinge of ironic “heh heh we’re mocking hip-hop” vibe that I got from that song; instead, this is just plain fun and a true celebration of the style (albeit it with staunchly rock instrumentation). The beatboxing rhythms are great, the cutesy girly K vocals sound both ridiculously out-off-place and somehow totally appropriate. It’s a great track, regardless of what you classify it as (it’s certainly not hip-hop, but not really rock either). And though the album has a few other charms worth mentioning, I think I’ll leave that to another time and another place….

Ed Howard | 11:32 pm | Comments (3)

I’ve just (literally) thrown hundreds of records (and I mean proper, 12″ vinyl records) into a large bin. Why? Because we no longer need or want them anymore in the department of the university where I work.

The collection I’ve just disposed of was ‘donated’ by the university radio station five years ago, and it has since been sitting, uncatalogued, uncared for, unused, in the corner of our department, which is becoming steadily busier and more cramped. Hence we have no room for it anymore, and hence my recent heretical chucking of it.

I’m torn as far as how I feel goes. On one hand I feel like a book-burner or something, as if I’ve committed a great sin against art and music. On the other, it was a definite thrill to hold all that culture in my hands, deem it unworthy, and cast it to the pit.

Don’t panic! Myself and my colleagues had trawled through the collection at length to fish out anything worth keeping, both for personal use and to add to our proper music collection in the library. I myself seized a pile of Jimmy Cliff and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, an old Verve promo, a near-mint condition 12″ copy of “Lazarus” by The Boo Radleys (which I’d been trying to get hold of for years!), a white-label promo copy of “Blue” by Bark Psychosis, some Talking Heads and a whole load of early 90s alternative stuff (World Of Twist, Momus). There was fuck-all left in that collection that anybody would have wanted, and all that’s been thrown out is knackered and unplayable or negligable dross at best. But for every Leo Sayer LP there’s a scratched-to-shit Killing Joke, for every dodgy, never-made-it no-mark there’s a Sweet album… I may not care for them, my colleagues may not care for them, you may not care for them, but maybe somebody would…

Fuck it. I had one last ruffle through them before I chucked them on the pyre. I had been worried in case there was something I’d missed, some record hidden in there, a diamond amongst shit, an album to potentially change my life but I’m 24, things don’t change my life anymore. I’m not sure they ever did, now I think about it. Maybe In Sides altered the way I listened to things from then on, but nothing ever convinced me to run away and be a monk, or to split up with my girlfriend, or to set fire to something…

What I’m trying to say is that, really, when you get down to it, at this point I think everything is disposable, and that nothing is genuinely essential to how well you live your life. If culture is telling stories, maybe there are so many stories being told now, by so many people, in so many ways, that none of them, by themselves, are absolutely necessary.

So goodbye Toyah, goodbye Zodiac Mindwarp, goodbye “Ireland’s Famous Singing Farmer”, goodbye Adorable, goodbye anonymous early 90s rave 12″. There are plenty more records out there to be heard.

Nick Southall | 11:36 am | Comments (3)

My God you guys, I shouldn’t have to be doing this again, not this soon, not this much closer to my heart. What a thing to have the two most exciting prospects to me in music right now fall apart within a month of each other, not because of inner-band quarreling, not because of too-rigorous touring schedules, and not because of creative block, but because of death.

Matt Davis of Ten Grand was a kinetic musician. With his trademark dreadlocks obscuring his face, he made you feel his music. His disarming and warbly screech unintelligably drove his pointed and riveting lyrics into your brain. It’s like he had a way of forcing out your own catharsis through his singing. He commanded the stage like an Indian medicine man, dancing and swaying; transfixed and inpenetrable. And yet he was so warm, and so compassionate, and so funny. In fact, it’s one of the things that attracted me to Ten Grand’s music in the first place, this ability to rock so viciously and stoically, yet still laugh about it when the song was over. Every time I put on one of the albums he helped make I see his figure, menacing but intrigiung, daring you to take one step closer, and making you glad you did the second afterwards.

R.I.P.

Colin McElligatt | 3:25 am | Comments Off

I must say that this (August 10th’s only entry- the links seem to be broken over there) is amazing.

Todd Burns | 3:00 am | Comments Off

So, Nick accuses Tom making/claiming its death. And then he fingers me? And maybe when I talked to Nick after writing seven of them last week I was feeling a bit burned out on the process- is 400 words on Skepticism really useful for anyone reading Stylus- or anyone at all for that matter?

I’ve been of the belief in the recent past that the time for the traditional record review has been over for a while now. As a consumer guide all we need is ten words, as Tom writes, and the knowledge of the person that we’re talking to. “You wouldn’t like it, if I know your taste at all…” Despite this, a life-affirming Nick Southall main event it becomes parodic self-indulgent garbage to many and that’s a shame.

In essence, however, what Stylus is trying to bring to the table is the whole package. David Cozen comes at it one way, Nick comes at in another, and maybe I complete the triangle. What is unfortunate for artists, perhaps, is that they can’t receive three Stylus reviews- the personal, the consumer, and the critical. Maybe it’s an idea to look into…

What does it add up to? The review isn’t dead. Even Tom admits that despite the extraordinary (my word, not his!) writing that rarely functions as proper review on NYLPM- IS mainly composed of talking about music- reviewing it, critiquing it, moving around it to look at another angle- which I think any successful writing about music does whether it be labeled review or blog post.

I hope that Stylus, at the very least, appears to be open to all these sorts of things, only forcing writers to write in the review format with one constraint: that they get across to the reader, in whichever way the feel best, what each album is about and whether or not it is worth someone’s time.

In other news, Ricardo Villalobos new album is ridiculously good. [If you like house music, you should buy it soon!]*

*[ten words, people, it’s all you need]

Todd Burns | 12:54 am | Comments Off

August 6, 2003

I made my way over to the local record shop the other day and found a flyer for a show that I recently went to. Stylus’ very own Joe Panzner and Mike Shiflet performed together as a group at the event and it was partially sponsored by Mike’s self-owned record label, Gameboy Records . I was dismayed, however, to see that the group had made up a name for themselves without consulting me seriously and that it was, in fact, one of the worst bandnames that I have ever seen: Scenic Railroads. I mean seriously guys, could you get any more emo?

Thus, in the comments for this post, we begin the first annual “Name A Band In Which A Stylus Writer Is Involved In Because The One That They Picked Was Not Very Good At All Contest”.

The winner of the contest will be awarded:

a) the knowledge that they have named the hottest up and coming laptop improv duo in ohio
b) an artist profile done by yours truly to be featured on the stylus main page (even if your only artistic moments consist of naming bands)

Yes, Joe and Mike have not been informed of this.

Todd Burns | 7:15 pm | Comments (6)

Sam’s recent Junior Senior review struck me as a really interesting piece of writing that touches on some issues that Stylus and other independent oriented sites (wait for it…) frequently struggle. In opposition to Rob Mitchum’s Pitchfork review and its concessionary tone of: “it’s fun, I don’t care, I’ll dance and I don’t have to think about the consequences any more”- (at the same time he spends a great deal of time framing it as a “I was one of you, I saw the light, you can now come over here and embrace this way of thinking…really…It’s OK!”), Sam grapples within the review on a nearly line by line basis maybe echoing the typical Pitchfork reader’s response. I think these reviews work in a very interesting way if read in tandem with one another and, oddly enough, in the end the conclusion is nearly the same as they get nearly the exact same rating by both writers.

Todd Burns | 3:10 pm | Comments Off

 
Current Listening / Watching / Reading
UNDER THE STYLUS

Stewart Voegtlin
WOLFMANGLER, Protected by the Ejaculations of Wolves [Split CD w/ M0SS]
NEGATIVE PLANE, Et in Saecula Saeculorum
MORTEM, De Natura Deamonum


Theon Weber
The Hold Steady - Seperation Sunday
Annuals - Be He Me
Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food


Ethan White
Bruce Nauman - Raw Materials
Ennio Morricone - The Red Tent OST
Stereolab - Serene Velocity


Bryan Berge
DJ Olive - Sleep
The Chap - Ham
V/A - Trap Door is an International Psychedelic Mystery Mix


Jonathan Bradley
Green Day - American Idiot
Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree
Brand New - Deja Entendu


Justin Cober-Lake
Stevie Wonder - Music of My Mind
Keith Moon - Two Sides of the Moon
Allen Toussaint - Life, Love and Faith


Ian Cohen
Maritime- We, The Vehicles
Mannie Fresh- The Mind Of Mannie Fresh
Lupe Fiasco- Food And Liquor


Elizabeth Colville
Magnetic Fields - Get Lost
Joan as Police Woman - Real Life
John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt


Iain Forrester
The Dresden Dolls - Yes, Virginia...
Hot Chip - Coming On Strong
The Knife - Deep Cuts


Andrew Gaerig
Trick Daddy - Thugs Are Us
Broadcast - The Future Crayon
V/A - Rio Baile Funk: More Favela Booty Beats


Todd Hutlock
Uncle Tupelo - March 16-20, 1992
Rockpile - Seconds of Pleasure
Andrew Weatherall - Hypercity


Andrew Iliff
Thom Yorke - The Eraser
Mr Lif - Mo' Mega
Tricky - Live at Leeds Town and Country


Thomas Inskeep
Cameo - The 12" Collection and More
Sonic Youth - Really Ripped
Panic! at the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out


Josh Love
Cassie - Me & U
Paris Hilton - Paris
Alan Jackson - Greatest Hits Collection


Evan McGarvey
Juvenile - Tha G-Code
Ghostface - Fishscale
Wilderness - Vessel States


Ian Mathers
Muslimgauze - Lo Fi India Abuse
The Cure - The Head On The Door
The Wedding Present - Seamonsters


Sandro Matosevic
Ladytron - Witching Hour
The Moaners - Dark Snack
San Serac - Tyrant


Derek Miller
120 Days - 120 Days
VA - Superlongevity 2
Hot Chip - Various b-sides


Mallory O'Donnell
Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds
Beyonce - B'Day
Kashmere Stage Band - Texas Thunder Soul


Fergal O'Reilly
The Auteurs - How I Learned To Love The Bootboys
Kitsune Maison Vol. 2
Sparks - Indiscreet


Cameron Octigan
Nathan Fake - Drowning in a Sea of Love
Alex Smoke - Paradolia
Ricardo Villalobos - Achso EP


Mike Orme
Guillemots - Through the Windowpane
Colleen - Colleen et Les Boîtes à Musique
Hot Chip - The Warning


Peter Parrish
Psychedelic Furs - Forever Now
The House of Love - Complete Peel Sessions
Catherine Wheel - Adam & Eve


Mike Powell
Scritti Politti - White Bread, Black Beer
Miles Davis - Get Up With It
Boredoms - Soul Discharge


Tal Rosenberg
M83 - Before The Dawn Heals Us
The Roots - Game Theory
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Give It Back!


Barry Schwartz
Tahiti 80 - Fosbury
Portastatic - I Hope Your Heart is Not Brittle
Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson in Crime


Brad Shoup
Michael Nesmith - From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing
The Tear Garden - Sheila Liked the Rodeo EP
Sam Moore - Plenty Good Lovin': The Lost Solo Album


Alfred Soto
Kirsty MacColl - Electric Landlady
Junior Boys - So This is Goodbye
50 Cent - Get Rich...


Nick Southall
Final Fantsay - He Poos Clouds
TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
Embrace - "Thank God You Were Mean To Me"


Josh Timmermann
Prince - 3121
Prince - Graffiti Bridge
Prince - Lovesexy




ON THE TUBE / IN THE THEATER

Tal Rosenberg
Walkabout
Arrested Development Season 2
Wedding Crashers


Arthur Ryel-Lindsey
Little Miss Sunshine
Von Ryan's Express
A Knight's Tale


Brad Shoup
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest


Alfred Soto
Arrested Development: Season One
The Flowers of Shanghai
Naked


Nick Southall
Primer
Serendipity
Dig!


Josh Timmermann
Inside Man
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
My Sex Life...or How I Got Into an Argument


Stewart Voegtlin
Dog Soldiers
Cache


Theon Weber
House, M.D. - season two
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - season two
Millions


Ethan White
The Tenant
Mr. Arkadin
Punishment Park


Justin Cober-Lake
Network
One Day in September
Passage to India


Elizabeth Colville
My Summer of Love
Pride & Prejudice
Trust the Man


L. Michael Foote
Wild At Heart
Bad Timing
The Witches


Todd Hutlock
Arrested Development Season 3
Tod Browning's Freaks


Ian Mathers
Seeing Other People
Sapphire & Steel, series 1
Death Race 2000


Dave Micevic
Gabrielle
Caché
Inside Man


Derek Miller
My Life Unravel


Jay Millikan
Superman Returns
Munich


Mallory O'Donnell
Snakes On A Plane


Fergal O'Reilly
Peep Show Series 1
The Wind That Shakes The Barley


Mike Orme
Bringing Up Baby
The Third Man
Frasier reruns, Lifetime


Mike Powell
Trust
Sherman's March




ON THE NIGHTSTAND

Elizabeth Colville
Swann's Way - Marcel Proust
The New Yorker, Sept 18, 2006
The Bounty - Derek Walcott


L. Michael Foote
Fanny, Edmund White
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon


Todd Hutlock
John Cale & Victor Bockris - What's Welsh For Zen?


Thomas Inskeep
Andrew Beaujon - Body Piercing Saved My Life
Tim Lawrence - Love Saves the Day
Dave White - Exile in Guyville


Josh Love
Henry Adams - The Education of Henry Adams


Ian Mathers
Spinoza - Ethics
Plato - Phaedo
Greg Rucka/Jesus Saiz - Checkmate


Sandro Matosevic
JT Leroy - The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things


Ron Mashate
Samuel Beckett - Murphy
William Gaddis - A Frolic Of His Own


Dave Micevic
Thomas Pynchon - V.


Derek Miller
Thomas Wolfe - You Can't Go Home Again


Jay Millikan
Richard Price - Clockers
Randy Shilts - And the Band Played On


Mallory O'Donnell
Simon Reynolds - Generation Ecstasy
Simon Frith - Music For Pleasure
Simon Reynolds - Rip It Up & Start Again


Fergal O'Reilly
David Peace - Nineteen Seventy-Four


Mike Orme
Salman Rushdie - The Ground Beneath her Feet


Peter Parrish
Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep


Mike Powell
WG Sebald - The Rings of Saturn


Tal Rosenberg
Sarah Vowell - Take the Cannoli


Barry Schwartz
Philip Roth - American Pastoral


Brad Shoup
Earl Conrad - Typoo


Alfred Soto
Anthony Summers - The Arrogance of Power


Nick Southall
Stephen King - The Calling of the Three
Kurt Vonnegut - Breakfast of Champions


Josh Timmermann
Jonathan Franzen - The Twenty-Seventh City


Stewart Voegtlin
Cormac McCarthy, Suttree


Theon Weber
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead


Ethan White
Linda Williams - Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the Frenzy of the Visible


Justin Cober-Lake
Umberto Eco - Baudolino
C.S. Lewis - The Screwtape Letters


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October 31st, 2007
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October 30th, 2007
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October 30th, 2007
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