June 28, 2004

So…

Todd Burns | 4:52 am | Comments (5)

June 23, 2004

Timbaland seems to be dividing opinion a great deal lately. Some would have it that the praise he’s received from mainstream rock and pop critics since Missy’s …So Addictive has lead to a complacency perhaps, a lack of rhythmic invention, a dearth of new directions in which to propel the artists he works with, and few truly head-wrenching “what the fuck was that?” moments over the last three years. Others would have it that, even if not accelerating his own game, he’s still way ahead of everybody else, and that’s all that matters; and even if he has been ‘canonised’, he’s managed to avoid the kind of rhetoric of authenticity that can afflict other hiphop producers/rappers/performers/etcetera crossing over to a ‘rock’ audience. Maybe the Diwali riddim did make him double take and panic that dancehall producers had out-done him at his own game for a while there… Either way, Mr Mosley is still one of the most exciting producers working in music today, and one particular track on Petey Pablo’s recent Still Writing In My Diary: 2nd Entry album proves it.

“Get On Dis Motorcycle” may not be the most nuts, onomatopoeic beat that Tim’s ever produced, but the texture and hooks running rampant over the top of the crunk thump send the weirdness-o-meter through the roof. A looped, chattering, drone-like sample of a chant in which words are indecipherable, possibly eastern, possibly sung by children, buzzes through the heart of the track, resting chaotically on the edge of pure noise but still maintaining a sense of melodic direction and a strong, intangible hook, while Petey Pablo (and later Bubba Sparxx) waxes blue collar jump rhymes over the top (“I was a bad muthafucka / Slightly retarded”?!). As if this wasn’t weird enough, at the end of each chorus Tim fires up what I assume must be a (small) motorcycle but which could equally be a chainsaw such is it’s pitch and timbre, and riffs with its revs quite extraordinarily for added found-sound sonic-delirium head-fuckery.

If “Get On Dis Motorcycle” brings anything to mind (other than Timbaland himself, and perhaps a hint of Qawwali about the tone of the vocal sample/hook), it’s “Starbound: All Burnt Out And Nowhere To Go” from D.I. Go Pop by Disco Inferno, where a chattering, noisy vocal sample is looped into a delirious, push-me-pull-you hook. “…Motorcycle” though has a decade of musical and technological innovation backing it up; this is a track you could easily imagine getting radio and/or club play, whereas Disco Inferno’s previous take on the idea exists fully in the realm of the experimental / avant-garde / ignored.

Which makes it even more tragic that, ten years hence, alternative rock still hasn’t, by and large, even attempted to engage with the now, let alone the future, and even more remarkable that people like Timbaland have taken hold of the future and made it the norm.

Oh yeah, did I mention that, forgetting everything else, “Get On Dis Motorcycle” is bloody fantastic?

It is.

Nick Southall | 9:03 am | Comments (5)

June 18, 2004

A number of days ago, much like a person tends to, on occasion, go pass through an old neighbourhood they‘ve long since left, I took a stroll along The Gloria Records website. As I imagine many are already aware of, The Gloria Record were led by Chris Simpson and Brian Malone, who were members of Mineral, a band that parted ways a number of years ago. My reasons and, as a result, interests in music have, it seems to me, changed quite a lot during these last couple years, so my wondering about TGR came with some surprise. While checking in on TGR I came to learn that apparently the boys are, as they put it, not broken up, but are without plans to ever play together again. So it seems those of the emo lineage are promised a short life-span and yet, with this being said, I had hope TGR might be one of those who defy their genes and last just a little longer. Although I nearly lost all interest for indie rock in general, I kept tabs on a select few if only out of fleeting interest. Not to say I’m terribly ashamed of having once listened to emo and though I do horde old cd’s such as The Power Of Failing, The End Of The Ring Wars and How It Feels To Be Something On, under my bed as though they were dirty magazines, I do, on occasion, play them quite openly before other people. Just yesterday I wiped the dust off Kilowatthours’ Strain Of Positive Thinking and gave it a listen. The experience of listening to those old records has been like flipping through an old photo album you had, for some time now, all but forgotten about and having past scenes sort of flicker back into clarity.

Among other thoughts, this has brought to mind my wondering just how many other bands have unfortunately parted ways before I, as a listener, would have preferred. There are, of course, endless streams of such cases and I’d like to only briefly touch on a few:
*Though I’m somewhat uncertain, I doubt the people of Red Stars Theory shall ever craft any further albums together again, which, it seems to me, is a shame as But Sleep Came Slowly and Life In A Bubble Can Be Beautiful contained, what are to me, some of the best moments Bentram, Greeen and Moffeo ever made.
*Camden seemed to be a band of much promise. Yet, after letting go of two full-lengths and an ep, they halted Camden indefinitely. I’ve only listened to one of their albums, that being, the one named Reel Time Canvas, but I’d much rather they’d have continued on with space rock/pop excursions than the make-your-teeth-root synth pop Seidel is lost in at the moment with his new band Decibully.
*What’s in this stunted list is all that comes to mind at the moment and so I’ll stop writing.

Todd Burns | 12:49 pm | Comments (2)

June 17, 2004

A.C. Newman’s debut, as the next best thing to a new New Pornagraphers record, has been getting some pretty impressive hype. I was thinking about trying to review it for Stylus, but upon hearing it a few times, I find I have very little to say about it (although I’m sure someone else will). Most of the record just sounds like Oh, Inverted World to me, and one of the reasons I love Chutes Too Narrow so fiercely is because it was such a quantum leap above the Shins’ first album, which I found mostly boring.

Of course, I realise that comparing The Slow Wonder to Oh, Inverted World will be a glowing recommendation for some, and that’s fine - Newman is a good songwriter and performer, even if his stuff isn’t quite my style. But I wish he had more songs like “The Town Halo”. It’s got more teeth than anything else on The Slow Wonder, and is the closest any of it gets to being as exciting as, say, “The Body Says No”. The song is anchored by a stirring, dark string refrain that is repeated inexorably during the verses. When Newman yelps out the title phrase over insistent piano, it’s a thrilling moment. It has a drive that seems missing from much of the album, and while that langour occasionally works in Newman’s favour (”Drink To Me Babe, Then” in particular), a better balance between it and songs like “The Town Halo” would have served The Slow Wonder better.

Ian Mathers | 4:03 pm | Comments (8)

June 16, 2004

For those of you who enjoy train wrecks, check out how badly The Cure’s Robert Smith is aging in their latest video.

Todd Burns | 3:57 pm | Comments Off

At 3:15 in the morning yesterday, I was watching TV in my parents’ basement as is my summer wont, when I flipped to HBO Signature which was going into its, “This Feature is Rated R” screen. I stuck around for a minute or two to see if there would be an N(udity) and SC(Strong Sexual Content) label following the rating intro. Alas, only nudity came up, but at 3:15, beggars can’t be choosers and I waited for the opening credits. To my surprise, they were airing Festen, the first Dogme 95 film, directed by Thomas Vinterberg.

This is my first experience with Dogme 95 stuff, and if anything I held a preconceived distaste for their films because the “Manifesto” seemed utterly stupid. The idea behind the Manifesto, focusing on the story and characters rather than superficial aspects of moviemaking, is good. However, one can tell a great story and include artistic visuals, so why limit oneself? Regardless, I was willing to watch Festen because Dogme 95 has an intriguing aura, I felt I needed to see its fruits.

For the first 20 minutes I was crestfallen, what kind of boring, impenetrable foreign crap had I gotten myself into? Characters whizzed about and many scenes had such different airs that I thought I was just letting symbolism rocket over my noggin. And then; that sweet sweet plot twist was delivered. I had had no idea what the film was about, and the revelation (avoiding spoilers as much as possible) snapped my slouching form to attention. Not knowing the plot beforehand made Festen all the more engrossing, so I implore you to rush to the video store and refrain from reading the box.

Simply put, Festen is excellent. The characters are painfully real and the story suspenseful. Watch this movie, you won’t regret it.

Regardless, I’m still not going to watch Dogville (made by Dogme 95 director Lars Von Trier), I will forever hate Nicole Kidman for her hack performance in Kubrick’s last film.

Kevin Worrall | 3:13 am | Comments (4)

June 15, 2004

I know this isn’t exactly music-related, but since what we do here at Stylus is most definitely journalism (though some of you might not always agree), I felt it was appropriate to express just how unbelievably saddened I am to hear about the passing of former Sports Illustrated writer and ESPN2 columnist Ralph Wiley. Pro sports and indie rock are little more than two ships passing in the night for most people, but I’m a huge fan of both, and I count Wiley as one of my biggest influences as a journalist even though I’ve never written a line of sports copy in my life. You didn’t have to be a numbers junkie or a stat head to appreciate his work, because he dug deeper than almost any other sportswriter, getting at the personalities behind the highlight reels and trying to understand sports as more than just a game but a cultural phenomenon, a mirror of society and especially of race. His writing was thick with ideas, but always remained direct and highly readable. He broke down barriers between journalist and reader, constructing an open dialogue in everyday speech rather than declaiming from some high horse or pedestal. I continue to try and follow his example in my own writing, and if someday I can be half as good a music writer as he was a sportswriter, or hell, just a writer in general, I’ll be really onto something.

Josh Love | 12:45 am | Comments (10)

June 9, 2004

In reading Todd Burns’ Playing God piece on The White Album, I can’t help but ponder for a moment: is “Martha My Dear” the very best that one-half of the best songwriting duo in pop history had to offer? Yes, it’s about his sheepdog. Yes, it’s decidedly the most non-life-changing trifle imaginable. But is it also life-affirming? Because, when I think about that chorus, “Hold your head up/You silly girl”—and particularly the falsetto-busting “See what you’ve DUUUUHHN,” as it leads into the “Find yourself in the thick-of-it” section—I almost feel guilty over the degree to which I am rejoicing in that little slice of unencumbered pop heaven — that something that means nothing in the world to anyone means everything in the world to me.

Anyway, just a thought.

Matthew Weiner | 3:10 pm | Comments (10)

June 7, 2004

A blessing to most of us, Creed announced that they’ve split up. The only strange part, as reported by The Rolling Stone, is that singer Scott Stapp’s future plans include working with Canadian arena rockers The Tea Party on a full-length album. As an unabashed fan of The Tea Party (despite their last poor effort), I can’t help but ask the unanswerable:

Does this mean that Stapp is getting cooler or that The Tea Party are getting lamer? Please, don’t answer that.

With the sneaking suspicion that TTP’s best work may well be behind them, I want to take this opportunity to shamelessly suggest, for those of you who haven’t heard any of their work, 1997’s Transmission and 1999’s Triptych. For a three-piece, these guys produce a really intricate sound that rewards repeat listens. To oversimplify the nature of their sound, they are like an updated Led Zeppelin, sung by Jim Morrison, replete with exotic eastern instruments (they’ll actually find some of these obscurities in Indian flee markets, have them repaired, teach themselves to play them, and feature them prominently on their records). I mean—really—what other band is doing this stuff?

If downloading is your thing, try these songs:

“Walking Wounded”
“Sister Awake”
“Fire in the Head”
“The Halycon Days”
“Samsara”
“Correspondences”

But if your mainstream fuse is especially short, and you can indulge but one, try the egregiously underrated ballad “Gone”. It’ll get your girl’s panties off in a hurry and in the end, isn’t that the truest musical litmus test?

Todd Burns | 10:59 am | Comments (11)

June 4, 2004

As I’m beginning to feel like Avril’s album may be among my favorites of the year so far (this and the Neurosis album, ok?) , I feel like I have some responsibility to chime in on the debate that centered around the recent article on the main site. I figured I’d bring it out here to continue the discussion a bit more easily.

One of the criticisms leveled at Avril is that of being without a personality. I can’t think a statement could be further from the truth. Giving her the benefit of the doubt in the basic construction of her public persona, Avril has crafted a very distinct personality that is anti-pose and anti-Britney. She wants people just to be themselves, rather than trying to act like something they’re not. Throughout her first album and, much more interestingly done on her second, she does so in an incredibly schizophrenic manner because she’s a 17 yr. old girl trying to find herself and trying to find her way in the world. If the complaint is about how she sings the songs too straight, I also couldn’t disagree more. As J0hn Darnie11e used to deride the song’s singing: “the mispronunciation of “complicated” to make it rhyme with the even worse mispronunciation of “frustrated” — that song just reeks to heaven in so many ways “, I find to be one of the reasons to embrace it all the more. The Canadian accent adds a different pronunciation to key words that make it far more interesting otherwise. In any case, there are numerous subtle inflections that she brings to certain moments of songs is actually quite brilliant (new album “Forgotten”’s beginning, “I’m With You”’s climax, “Freak Out”’s punk sneer). And all of this is aside from the fact that she’s an INCREDIBLE singer. That’s the reason that she got a record deal in the first place.

The further claim made in the comments of the article go like this: “Avril has nothing to add to any music dialogue”. Mmm. I’m halfway able to agree with this. Except for the fact that when she appeared on the pop landscape there was not a strong female presence that denied sexuality as a defining influence. Her contribution to the musical dialogue is anthems for teenage girls that don’t have someone to listen to (on the radio) that say that abstinence is good, outside of Christian stations. I can’t imagine the semi-atheist teenage girl population that doesn’t want to have sex is that small. It’s an important addition to that musical dialogue and narrative that simply wasn’t being presented at the time.

Finally, the claim that Lavigne’s music isn’t humorous is put on the table. If you can’t listen to “Sk8er Boi” and “He Wasn’t” without cracking a smile, you probably have a different conception of humor than her. Imagine that.

Todd Burns | 1:28 am | Comments (14)

June 3, 2004

Tipped off by my helpful soulful house informant, Rich Moroder Juzwiak, this A-side has a fantatstic bass run-up that is augmented by a preponderance of squelches. Never one to back down from the disorienting ping (cf. Sparks: “Tryouts for the Human Race” and Kelis “Caught out There”), it’s also got great lyrics. Anything that makes reference and then drops the sample to AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” gets extra special bonus points from me…

Who is that he needs, though? House music. Hard to believe he’s taking a picture of her and putting her up on the internet…but when the music is this good, you can’t let logic get in the way of the dancing.

Todd Burns | 3:50 am | 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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