June 29, 2006
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The biggest hit this summer in Finland is a song called “Mikä kesä” by Valvomo. It’s a dull reggae song with stupid lyrics. In fact, the only good thing about it is the title, which can be translated two ways: “What a Summer” or “What Summer?” The lyrics don’t do the title justice, though. Instead it inspired me to create a min-mix of songs that actually do describe the feelings of summertime. Summer is a strange mix of sea, sex, sun, barbeque, beer, loud rock music, and childhood memories all wrapped up in long lazy afternoons and warm nights.

Ash: Oh Yeah
“Oh yeah she was taking me over / Oh yeah it was the star of the summer / It felt just like it was the start of forever / Oh yeah it was start of the summer.” I’ve never had a summer fling like in this song. But I can imagine myself a one. Summer is time for dreaming about love. What a wonderful adolescent song.

Edoardo Bennato: Viva La Mamma
This is a silly Italian pop song. It’s sunny, quite catchy, and relatively easy to dance to. It also reminds me of my trip to Rome in May. Music to dance and recall to. Perfect for summer.

The Thrills: Big Sur
For me, this one is about the sunny days in August. You just have to force yourself out of the house: this could be the last beautiful day of the summer. They should know: the band spent a month in San Diego and then went back to rainy Ireland to record an album about their time there.

Oasis: Champagne Supernova
A great song for rainy days. I really liked the episode “Rainy Day Women” of The OC. Is that the only episode in the OC where it rains? It (obviously) reminds me of the moment when Summer comes to Cohen’s house and Seth falls from the roof wearing a Spider-Man mask and “Champagne Supernova” plays in the background.

Stone Roses: I Am the Resurrection
I didn’t like the instrumental part in “I Am the Resurrection” before a barbeque party with my friends went wild in the summer of 2004. We drank too much and it started to feel like it was time to dance. The only records we had were a Phil Collins CD and The Very Best of the Stone Roses. Thank god the Stone Roses collection ended with “I Am the Resurrection.” When you’re dancing, the instrumental part makes sense. You just don’t want the song to end.

Jaako Ranta | 7:47 am | Comments Off

June 28, 2006

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  • So about three weeks ago I lamented the fact that no real indie act had crossed-over to really be a big player in the mainstream in a while. (I forgot to mention the like triple platinum Killers. My bad.) I then stupidly mentioned Arctic Monkeys, who I really thought had a great chance of breaking through over here. Of course, I was dead wrong, but the radio has indeed been bum rushed by a young, indie band: Wolfmother. Their single “Woman” is damn near inescapable. Just the other day I heard it in rotation at Best Buy, on the Miami alt-rock radio station that still plays 93% Green Day/Nirvana/Disturbed, and sandwiched between Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rick Ross on MTV. Turns out that “Woman” has charted as high as number seven on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and as high as ten on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and their self-titled debut has reached as high as number twenty-two on the Billboard 200. Now whether Wolfmother is actually indie (check that Interscope distribution deal) or any good (does anyone know anyone that actually owns this thing?) is up for debate, but one thing is for sure: If you saw this coming, you know a whole hell of a lot more about pop music than I do.
  • Last week I said that I couldn’t sit through 28 straight tracks of one straight artist, so I was more then a little leery of this 23+ track Lil’ Wayne and DJ Drama Dedication 2 mixtape, but if the internet ever goes crazy for a mixtape this year like it did last year, this one will most definitely be it. Let’s not it get it twisted: this is no We Got it 4 Hipsters, but much like the best moments of that mixtape the best songs here are when Weezy (Please Say the) Motherfucking Baby raps over other artist’s beats. And he picks great ones (“What You Know,” “I Think They Like Me,” “Poppin’ My Collar”), sometimes one-upping the guys who made the song famous. Dedication 2 also fits Wayne’s magnetic personality much better then an album does, with little thirty second spots where he just talks about stuff like Katrina or why he calls himself the Best Rapper Alive. Plus, he calls out Raven Symone, professes his love for PTI and uses a copious amount of Pat Summerall samples. What’s not to love?
  • Dear Neko Case,

I didn’t want to give you a chance. I told myself I wasn’t into country or solo female albums. I told myself no matter how many times my best friend told me to listen to Fox Confessor Brings the Flood that I just wouldn’t do it. Well, I finally did and I haven’t been the same since. Sure, the bands at the top of my Last.fm charts are getting jealous, but none of that matters whenever I listen to “Star Witness” or “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.” It’s now 4:38 AM and I’ve been listening to you almost exclusively since midnight. Your voice is stunning and your lyrics are haunting, but I especially love how your guitar loses its shit on “Hold On, Hold On.” I think I’m in love.

Sincerely,
Jordan Sargent

P.S. Can I have my heart back?

Jordan Sargent | 5:14 am | Comments (2)

June 27, 2006
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The front row was all sixteen-year-old girls in bright skirts. And before the show a sulky kid snatched a Jonathan Safran Foer book out of his Dickies bag; he held it proudly near the New Trier girls. I laughed, but who was I kidding? The oldest member of Nashville garagepunks Be Your Own Pet can’t be older than eighteen; the drummer even made a crack about the bassist turning sixteen that night, though that joke’s a bit suspect.

“I am a wildcat, and you are a worm, and we are chasing each other and taking turns,” Jemina Pearl yelped in “Wildcat!” It’s an apt lyric for the act: BYOP are alternately fierce and insecure, but that shouldn’t surprise you with a pack of snotty teens. Pearl vamps with the best, sure, but she ran straight into the arms of her boyfriend at set’s end. And after tearing through four-song, barely ten-minute long bursts, they asked the audience for the next song, half-joke complaining that retuning killed the momentum.

Like any kid with ambition to spare, though, I’m sure they’d be offended if I called their irresolute stage presence endearing. So the music—it’s loud, quick, and hooky, which, by necessity, makes their live set perfectly exciting. Hardly poised, some tact in their bedroom-sized arena riffs (album opener “Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle” in particular), and off-the-wall drumming—not quite album material or the stuff of contact-free performances. My friends caught them on Conan and thought BYOP sucked; hard to disagree when their mistakes aren’t in a 300-person venue but on national TV, and volume’s as loud as the knob permits. But back in the Beat Kitchen, Pearl looked great up front—watch her yell “I’m an independent motherfucker, and I’m here to steal your virginity!”—and the band played on, all smiles.

Sam Bloch | 8:45 am | Comments Off

June 26, 2006

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My big birthday surprise this year was being serenaded by a Mariachi band in a Japanese Mexican restaurant. A little taken aback by the uncanny cross-culturalism, the most eloquent reaction I could muster was “arigracias.” When I got home and did my pre-sleep infotainment scan, I was informed of an even clumsier public pronouncement than my Jaspanish: the Go! Team’s peculiar and ludicrous cover of Sonic Youth’s “Bull In the Heather.”

No longer simple sing-alongs to bridge the stage and the standing room, covers are more a Rorschach test for how an act wishes to be publicly portrayed. When any of Mike Patton’s various avant-metal acts bust out a Burt Bacharach number, it’s a deliberate display of technically-proficient piss-taking. Avril Lavigne’s live Clash covers, on the other hand, are begging on bended knee for artistic credibility. My guess is that the Go! Teamsters are trying to mine that demographic of particularly icy indie kids they’ve left unimpressed, if only because their music triggers flashbacks of being picked last for 6th grade dodgeball. But why waste time on an ill-advised version of a B+ song when the web is awash with innumerable interesting covers? Free-hosting sites like MySpace a fast becoming little more than depositories for whimsical musical tributes of every stripe.

Q And Not U
The last of the purebred post-harDCore bands left a stirring (if somewhat histrionic) version of Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” available for download.

Mose Giganticus
One-man metalectro maestro Mose Giganticus (a.k.a. Matt Garfield) serves up a fierce, hoarse-throated rendition of that classic from the golden age of analog synths, “Mr. Roboto.”

Rapeman
For those too cheap or unwilling to accept that Big Black wasn’t Steve Albini’s best band, bite into their ZZ Top cover a see if you don’t break a few teeth.

OXES
A goldmine of odd & slightly inappropriate covers, the rowdy bovine trio from Baltimore has packed their MySpace page with four deconstRAWKtions of your favourite ‘90s guilt pleasure pop hits. Don’t miss the Sheryl Crow cover fronted by Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

Sebastian Roberts | 8:22 am | Comments (2)

June 23, 2006
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I never bothered asking Kate what she thought of my deep girl group appreciation (and particularly of the Shangri-Las), but I’m guessing that, as my resident astrologist, she’d defer to the Scorpio framework. “Their feelings are so intense that even when their love is of the highest, and most idealistic kind, they are nevertheless frequently protagonists in tragic, even violent romances.” “Out In the Streets” is textbook tragedy: girl loves guy for who he is, but love changes him; he feels torn between who he is (who the girl loves) and who he’s become. He doesn’t leave, she forces him out. This performance, from the short-lived Shindig! show on ABC, doesn’t have the best audio quality, but it perfectly represents the balance of affectation and true, deep pain at the heart of the Shangri-Las. Shadows, then lights; ghost faces in the darkness… their monolithic sadness is so… sensual… I’m actually… wow… am I crying?… I have this thing for ultra-melancholy, romantic, batshit women…

This is where my therapist usually says “Well, our time is up for today.”

Mike Powell | 3:25 pm | Comments Off

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Winter’s so long and dark here in Finland that we Finns have a duty to enjoy summer. Before heading out to big summer festivals I opened my festival season here in my hometown Orimattila (population 15,000). There was a band night where local bands played. I had a good time, the weather was fine, and the bands were trying hard and giving everything to a small audience. My homeboys impressed me so much that I thought it would be cool to promote them here.

Figure
I would really have wanted to see these guys, but I thought that the best band plays last, so I missed their set. The band sounds a little bit like Nine Inch Nails but without the electronica influences and they have a good singer. They’re actually releasing their debut album Blood, Bullets & Reloads soon. I’m really hoping that they will make it big. In spring Figure actually won a demo contest in YleX, which is like Finland’s Radio One.
Website
MySpace

Vintage Voltage
This band plays blues-rock covers. On Friday they played Jimi Hendrix and Cream. They are all good musicians, but I think they take lack the personality of a good group. They appear on stage like a prog rock band taking themselves way too seriously. Unfortunately their drummer and bass player are doing their compulsory military service (every young male in Finland has to do that) so the band is on a hiatus right now.

Surface
In Finland every festival has an obligatory death metal band. This band filled the slot. They were really filled with enthusiasm. And actually quite fun to watch when they started bangin’ their heads.
Website

Subzero
Subzero are real stars in Orimattila, or at least they act like ones. They dress up like little brothers of Ramones who have learned few tricks from Marc Bolan. Their lead singer Lester Brisco is banned from all the local bars. And they’re stage show makes me smile. On Friday there was a small crowd, but they gave everything they had. Their lead singer Lester Brisco (he has a real Finnish name too) jumped around and tried to make a good show. These kids still believe in the power of three chords.
Website

Jaako Ranta | 8:22 am | Comments Off

June 22, 2006

Pink Floyd - Look Of The Week -

Via the ever valuable Last Plane to Jakarta, we have this little gem of old school BBC music programming: Pink Floyd back in the Syd days play a song and then get quizzed by an obviously hostile German string quartet enthusiast. Priceless in all sorts of ways, it reminds me of how much I love the BBC, as whether or not it’s just hindsight talking they’ve always seemed a little more willing to embrace the strange than North American TV (to say nothing of, say, PBS).

Ian Mathers | 2:48 pm | Comments Off

The first in an occasional series covering (mostly music- or film-related) books that I have recently checked out of my friendly neighborhood public library. Come read with me!

The Beatles have been memorialized, celebrated and dissected in print hundreds–nay, thousands–of times in the last 40 years or so. There are memoirs from former members, members’ wives, associates and hanger ons. There are officially sanctioned coffee table books. There are slab-like tomes devoted to chronicling every last bit of Fab Four minutae. There’s even stupid shit like this. One might assume–logically–that the Beatles well has, at this late date, run dry. But one would be wrong!

For years, Geoff Emerick remained of the few remaining people who actually has a perfectly good reason to write about John, Paul, George and Ringo, but never did until just this year. Here, There and Everywhere chronicles in satisfying detail the years Emerick spent as the Beatles’ recording engineer at EMI’s legendary Abbey Road studios. That’s right, Beatlemaniacs: finally, we can get the nitty gritty on what really matters–Mic placements! Speaker cabinets! Mixing consoles! Compression! All the sonic wizardry that makes Beatles records sound amazing all these years later. Fortunately, Emerick is a fairly decent writer, and doesn’t let technical detail get in the way of telling a good story. His book keeps its narrative firmly planted in the confines of the studio, meaning that the reader doesn’t have to slog through the usual Beatles stories that have been repeated ad nauseam elsewhere. And it’s by no means a rose-tinted nostalgia trip for Emerick; the sessions for “The White Album” are depicted as extremely tedious and tortuous. And George Harrison in particular comes across as a rather unpleasant dude. A dick, really.

The bulk of Here, There and Everywhere is obviously devoted to Beatles recording sessions, but one of the most entertaining chapters covers the disastrous making of WingsBand on the Run, which bizarrely took place in Lagos, Africa. During a break from recording, Paul, Linda and Emerick took in a concert by Afro-Beat king Fela Kuti. McCartney, blown away by the performance, went backstage to meet Kuti. But instead of greeting the former Beatle with open arms, Kuti immediately denounced him, claiming that McCartney was trying to “steal the black man’s music.” One can assume that if and when Kuti heard Band on the Run, he realized that his suspicions had been completely unfounded. I mean, that’s like the whitest record ever made, right?

Tyler Wilcox | 2:08 pm | Comments Off

During those countless hours lost wandering around Amazon.com (don’t deny it; if my nonagenarian grandmother does it, so do you), you’ve doubtlessly noticed that Japanese album releases always sport an extra track or two. This is because, at Ą3000 a pop (a.k.a. $30USD, Ł15, or 4 sheep NZ), CDs aren’t entertainment in Japan—they’re an investment.

I know, I know, there’s an obvious solution, but holster that iPod, buckaroo. iTunes’ oriental incarnation only debuted within the past year, and the catalogue is hardly comparable with the Western one. Not to mention I just hate MP3s. Call it self-righteous, but do you realize, when listening to Loveless on those li’l white ear buds, it effectively nullifies two of the three years Kevin Shields spent laboring over that album?

Besides, we’ve something better to sate our aural appetites in the Far East, an amenity unique to Nippon that would make the RIAA apopleptic… CD rental stores. I’m not talking about the crusty collection of useless paraphernalia found at the local library, either. With unparalleled completist fervor and obsessive-compulsive attention to subgenre distinctions, these stores can’t help but expand your musical education exponentially. I’ve lost whole days perusing shelves that evolved gracefully from avant-toy-pop to psychedelic folk, post-rock to IDM, bossa nova to Memphis soul. And any one of these blessed albums can be mine for a full week at a mere Ą200 apiece.

This all does little good for everyone outside of Japan. Fear not, for I enjoy free entertainment as much as the next guy sporting a studio tan. So in the spirit of camaraderie with my fellow summer shut-ins, here are some of the better internet radio sites I’ve come across.

DrugMusic.com
Don’t be put off by the clunky pothead handle. This roughly-diurnal webcast boasts a stunning array of psychedelic, noise, garage, and experimental artists. If you ever wanted to hear the Brian Jonestown Massacre, 13th Floor Elevators, Spacemen 3, Can, the Afghan Whigs, Scratch Acid, and the Flaming Lips in a single hour, this is the rabbit-hole to fall into.

Negativland.com’s Radio’s Worst Nightmare
Less a coherent broadcast than an FM-band freakshow, this site is perfect for pillaging samples. Between the vintage collection of commercials and disastrous DJ audition tapes, it also guarantees a good laugh.

The official Sonic Youth site Mixtape
The fifth edition of the official band mixtape features several songs from their brand-new release, Rather Ripped, along with classic cuts by everyone’s favourite instrument-abusing underground idols.

Zoe’s Radio Show
She’s fifteen years old and has better taste than you. Get over it.

Weirdsville.com
For those who like their tunes willfully obtuse with a hint of humour, this seven-year veteran webcast sees fit to force Martin Denny, Throbbing Gristle, the Fugs, Amon Düul, and the Shaggs under the same umbrella. (WARNING: RealPlayer only)

Sebastian Roberts | 7:18 am | Comments Off

June 21, 2006

I’m currently suffering from a horrible case of writer’s block cured not by a handful of blogs, long periods of brainstorming, FIFA 2006, or the Facebook. Since I am unable to formulate any type of paragraph with substance I instead give you random thoughts, links etc.:

  • Zach Braff savior of indie rock? The people behind The Last Kiss sure seem to think so.
  • If anyone is cooler than Andrew Bird I don’t know about them. (And yes, that picture is currently the background on my computer).
  • The attention that Envelopes haven’t received is criminal.
  • The Bloggers love Tapes ‘n Tapes, but does anyone else?
  • Right at this moment my mother is blasting James Taylor at an ear-splitting level across my house and damn does he rock.
  • If you’ve never watched Fight Klub on MTV2, you haven’t lived.
  • I don’t think many people have listened to that Hard-Fi album (bad timing, market saturation, etc.) but those dudes have dance riffs like no one’s business.
  • For anyone else who has the leaked version of TV on the Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain, are “Wolf Like Me” and “Playhouses” the same song?
  • The Clipse = the best act in music.
  • Run’s House = the best show on television.
  • I could never sit through 28 straight tracks of any artist let alone the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but “Dani California” is a powerhouse of a song.
  • If Scott Walker’s The Drift is really the fourth best album to be released so far this year, we’ve got problems.
  • No doubt Eva Longoria is beautiful, but really?
  • And lastly, my favorite YouTube video of the moment: Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer.
Jordan Sargent | 7:25 am | Comments (2)

June 15, 2006

the Monks - Monk Chant / Oh, How To Do Now -

The Monks are a myth-before-music experience, but so’s “Johnny B. Goode” and so’s pletnty of rock & roll, I guess. The Monks were four American G.I.s stationed in Germany who decided to stick around after they were discharged and somehow — really, this is a huge mystery to me — scam their way onto German television to perform like this: yelp, hit a guitar, make room for comparatively endless keyboard solos, have four tambourines too many, and shave the tops of their heads. Go figure. While their one real album, 1966’s Black Monk Time, became something of a cult classic, I don’t think the band ever made a real impression on me until I saw this footage. Inspiring. Seriously.

Mike Powell | 4:43 pm | Comments (2)

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Perhaps Larry Grogan would agree that three-minute soul singles (OK, two and a half minutes) from the 60s are melodic summer records that have 30-something hipsters swinging their New Era caps backwards and a senior in Maryland reminiscing over their first sexual misadventure to The Supremes, but I don’t collect Air Miles and a flight to Grogan’s New Jersey home is beyond my bank situation.

It’s summer. Venereal misfortunes are skyrocketing to Drippsett rock-rap anthems and public awareness of summer music is being purchased by the Warner Music Group. Damn, it’s depressing, but something beautiful for your ears can be found on the Internet, during T.I.’s pop chart reign.

Eddie Holland, Brian Holland, and Lamount Dozier were Motown’s sure-shot songwriters, and producers that tailored the Supremes, Four Tops, and Marvelettes with catchy singles the teenagers of yester decades bopped to. Martha and The Vendellas’ “In My Lonely Room” hit #44 on the pop charts and number six on the R&B charts in April 1964. Sure, “In My Lonely Room” is no “Dancing in the Streets,” but for a B-side single “In My Lonely Room” has more depth than a scuba diver. The time-stamped formula of heartbreak meets pop single was the 60s-Hitsville U.S.A. hustle.

Kim Weston’s “Helpless” (1966) is a northern soul classic put together by Holland, Dozier, and Holland single. Desperation for relationship closure is what “Helpless” projects with Weston’s powerful vocals that guide a staggering horn, which can still blow life into summer 2006. Now, Betty Everett’s “It’s Getting Mighty Crowded” is an official “soon-to-be single woman stands tall” song that came out in 1964. “There ain’t room enough for two and sharing your heart with someone new will never do,” are Everett’s lyrics that Van McCoy had written back when men “knew nothing about women.” Cats in mod and northern soul scenes love “It’s Getting Mighty Crowded” and with Everett’s blaring vocals over a Chicago soul production (Cal Carter) only pale scenesters with low blood pressure cannot move to the soul in Everett’s damn-the-ex banger.

These three songs are what summer sounds like in my automobile.

All songs are from Gorgan’s Funky 16 Corners
Martha and The Vendellas - In My Lonely Room
Kim Weston - Helpless
Betty Everett - It’s Getting Mighty Crowded

Jordan Chalifoux | 8:22 am | Comments (1)

June 14, 2006

The Residents - Constantinople -

People never made me mixtapes or lent me albums in high school because they thought that I “already knew everything”; I was a notoriously voracious listener and prolific tape-maker (ex-girlfriends have shopping bags, I’ve seen them). So it was a pretty big thrill when, in college, people stopped being presumptuous, self-deprecating jerks and finally started lending me stuff. One day, John Gulino, who was a co-worker of mine for a little while, brought me Duck Stab/Buster & Glen by The Residents. I knew jack shit about what The Residents actually sounded like, so you could imagine how it blew my soft, Pere Ubu & early Eno-lovin’ 19-year-old mind to hear arty, abrasive pop music that wasn’t overtly rock & roll-oriented. I still sorta feel like Duck Stab/Buster & Glen hasn’t really gotten its fair share of praise in a post-punk context, maybe in part because it doesn’t seem at all concerned with “ideals” in the way that post-punk did. But I’m not going to bore you with hogwash analysis. This is TV IV. Eyeball heads etc. Thanks to John for dropping a bomb on my desk one sunny day in central Virginia.

Mike Powell | 6:03 pm | Comments Off

The overwhelming smell memory of this wonderful festival on the east coast of Spain is that of sewage cooking in the gutters and the sweet scent of “rolled cigarettes.” With so many bands split over five stages there were bound to be some unfortunate timetable clashes, as well as fuzzy festival amnesia and the headline acts not going onstage till 3 AM. Here’s what caught my ears and eyes over the three-day campaign…

Animal Collective
It’s three in the morning and I’ve lost my friends and am standing in front of the Animal Collective and they’re playing “Grass.” I feel less alone seeing such joy onstage. I can’t remember the last time I heard a crowd cheer upon hearing a chord change, but when the cascading guitars slip into higher gear on “Banshee Beat” the assembled audience shifts to a higher state of consciousness. The Animal’s interpolation of “I just called to say I love you” into the bridge of “The Purple Bottle” is the icing on the collective cake.

Boredoms
Again it’s the middle of the night and the spirit of the Animal Collective is still in the air from the night before. Then: the Boredoms do the exact opposite of their name. With the aid of four drum kits the band welcome the dawn, enveloping us with tribal hypnotica.

Deerhoof
Although recently slimmed down to a three piece, Deerhoof still bring the noise, with Satomi commanding the stage with a mixture of childlike glee while sonic mayhem erupts around her.

Dinosaur Jr
Wandering over the festival ground at midnight with an overpriced cup of beer in my hand, I started running as soon as I heard the opening chords of “The Wagon” tearing through the air—it was Dinosaur! One minute later and I’m at the front of the stage, marvelling and slightly scared by the whirlwind of snow-white hair that’s whipping through the air between J Mascis’ guitar and his amp stacks. Murph’s between-song stadium drum fills indicate how pumped the reformed rockers seem to be, with Lou Barlow pounding seven shades of sludge outta his bass and screaming lyrics to songs they wrote together two decades ago. When they hit the sweet seam of “Forget the Swan,” “Little Fury Things,” “Just like Heaven,” and “Freak Scene” I feel like I’ve ascended to Valhalla, with Mascis’ endless soloing paving the way to the hall of fame.

ESG
The deceptively simple groove science of the Scroggins family band led to much dancing and smiling. An enthusiastic Mark Eitzel told me before their set that he was really looking forward to them and remembered buying their first record when he was 17!

Flaming Lips
Believe it or not, I’d never seen the Flaming Lips live extravaganza before and so approached it with some trepidation. Surrounded on both sides by Martians and Santa Claus’s (extras from their “Xmas on Mars” movie, maybe?), the F’lips seem unafraid to ask big questions and make technicolour protest pop in the guise of entertainment (like when they dedicate their version of Sabbath’s “War Pigs” to George W.). The humanistic benevolence of Coyne and the band leave me refreshed and smiling in the Spanish night air.

Mogwai
Arriving onstage in matching green tracksuit tops, the Glaswegian gremlins shed their outer skins and plough through a set consisting of mainly new material from Mr. Beast, but it’s the older trinity of “Summer,” “Fear Satan,” and the soul cleansing “Helicon 1” that spike the show, delivering the transcendental noise that makes Mogwai so beloved in the live arena.

P:ano
I was completely charmed by this band whom I encountered by accident as momentary festival dyslexia led me to expect Japanese electronica! Instead this little trumpeted Vancouver combo should jump on the “Canada is the new Seattle” bandwagon as soon as possible. Their refreshing instrumental line-up of ukulele, bass sax, accordion and brushed drums creates cute songs with lovely colours. A killer cover version of Sly Stone’s “Runnin’ Away” made this one of the festival’s sweetest shows!

Stuart A. Staples
The suit might be from his Tindersticks days (and late nights) but tonight Stuart Staples plays songs from his solo outings, their smoky ambience (only musically though, as Spain recently adopted an indoor smoking ban!) and deep baritone blues spellbinding the seated audience.

Vashti Bunyan
When Vashti introduces a song by saying “here’s a song I wrote in 1966 when I was very young and very heart broken” then you know you’re about to witness something very special. The song was “Winter Is Blue” and I can’t believe it’s forty years old. Vashti Bunyan is performing songs both old and new, alternating new tunes with old and accompanied by a small string section and piano. The shy black-clad pastoral songstress seems shocked at the reception her words and mystical music are greeted with. Gorgeous, simple, heart rending, and hopeful, Vashti Bunyan was the emotional highlight of the festival.

Why
Anticon’s most popular crossover kid kicked out a set of jams of Malkmus-esque indie rock with just a little hop, lyrically peppered with minute observations, subtle political criticism, and a fascination with hair.

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s
Karen O’s attempts at fulfilling the role of iconic rock chick is slightly undermined by the fact that she smiles so much and can’t hide that she’s havin’ so much fun onstage. Guitarist Nick Zinner looks like he’s just walked out of a Jesus & Mary Chain photoshoot in 1986 and rather petulantly smashes a guitar mid-set, this doesn’t however signal any kind of creative impasse though. “Pin,” “Date with the Night,” “Maps,” and “Y control” accelerate this YYY’s gig from merely good to great.

Yo la Tengo
These guys played a lot of new songs but reward the crowd with renditions of classics like “Little Eyes,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” and “Tom Courtenay.” The quintessential indie rockers finish with an epic version of “I Heard You Looking,” one of those trademark YLT freakout songs that they could play forever and you’d never be bored.

Keith Wallace | 3:48 pm | Comments (1)

Concert tickets too expensive? Look no further than these ever-reliable blogs to get your live music fix.

Rbally is a godsend. In the past week or so, Jennings has posted a vintage My Bloody Valentine show from 1992, a 2002 Sonic Youth Morning Becomes Eclectic session and is gradually putting up a recent, extremely intimate Jeff Tweedy solo set.

Bradley’s Almanac definitely makes us feel as though we still live in Boston. Brad tapes the cream of the cities’ indie rock shows and puts ‘em up within days for our listening pleasure. Recent shows include Cat Power, Radiohead and Film School.

Kwaya Na Kisser just posted a cool Morrissey show from 1992—and if you scroll down a bit you can find an excellent recent in-studio live session from Dan Bejar’s Destroyer.

Tyler Wilcox | 10:50 am | Comments Off

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I love music. But I don’t know a thing about it. I can’t read notes, I can’t sing and I have no sense of rhythm. I think that adds the mystique of liking some songs. For me there’s always been some strange appeal in an Oasis B-side “Rockin Chair.” It’s a simple song, with stupid lyrics, like “It’s hard enough sitting there / Rockin’ in your rockin’ chair.” So quite basic Oasis stuff. But whenever I hear the song it makes me shiver. I don’t know if it’s the melody, the chord arrangement, Liam Gallagher’s voice, or some other thing. I always wondered what it was in the song. And then one day while listening a Stone Roses album I realized that “(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister” has a similar thing in there. I listened the song on repeat for the next two hours.

Couple of weeks ago I read an article on Pitchfork about online music recommendation tools. I already had tried programs like Pandora and Last.fm, but the article mentioned a new tool called MusicIP. MusicIP analyses the waveforms of every track on your hard drive. Or something like that. The program doesn’t have to know the songs because it takes information on waveforms. And then you can make playlists from individual songs. The program offers you similar songs to the one that you start from. For example if you want to make a party mix, you just create a playlist from a Jackson 5 song and the program offers you more fun party music. (My “Blame It on the Boogie” mix had Madonna, Human League, Duran Duran, and Rolling Stones.)

So, naturally, I tried to find if there was more songs that could make me shiver like “Rockin Chair” or ‘Sugar Spun Sister.” First, I tried to create a playlist from “Rockin’ Chair.” The program gave me Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” Nirvana’s “Rape Me,” one song by Death Cab, and a really silly finnish teen pop song. OK, all songs that I like in some level, but none of them with that similar shivery potential. From “Sugar Spun Sister” came a very weird playlist. There was “Losing My Religion” and “We Rule the School” by Belle & Sebastian, but the rest of the playlist consisted of Alice Cooper, Spinal Tap, and the Rolling Stones cover of “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.” I wasn’t really impressed.

I think it’s a little sad that our music collections on our hard drives have become so huge that we need computer programs to find our favourites. And yet these programs miss something that’s so important in listening and picking music. We just don’t respond to sounds like animals. There is much more important emotional side that is almost impossible to quantify. For example: my Pet Shop Boys station on Pandora always offered me 80’s dance pop like Paula Abdul, Rick Astley, or Tina Turner. But I don’t only like Pet Shop Boys because it’s good 80s pop. I love Pet Shop Boys because of the lyrics in “Left to My Own Devices” as well.

The aforementioned Pitchfork article also mentioned a new program called Echo Nest. The program gathers a massive amount of information from blogs and record reviews. One of the developers Brian Whitman says: “Our hope is to answer every possible question about music that ever existed. If we can pull that off, then I think we’re doing very well.”

Indeed, if all goes well, I can hear the voice of John Peel’s ghost in my mind: “Echo Nest goes online August 4th, 2010. Human decision is removed from radio playlists. Echo Nest starts to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 am. Eastern Time, August 29th. In a panic they try to pull the plug.”

Jaako Ranta | 7:31 am | Comments Off

June 13, 2006

Halcali - Baby Blue -

About a month and a half ago, my friend Andy started sending me songs by Halcali. One per day. I don’t know very much about Halcali. I know that they are two young Japanese women. I know that they claimed to not have ever heard the term “hip-hop” before starting Halcali. I know that they had the guts/stupidity/sense of humor to call their first album Halcali Bacon. If you try to bring up a translated version of their profile, you see tons of question marks, appropriately. So anyway, you’ll just have to live in the Idiot Moment with me and enjoy “Baby Blue,” which reminds me of Aaliyah, cLOUDDEAD, the Boredoms, and SNES’ F-Zero all at once.

Mike Powell | 3:05 pm | Comments Off

The news hit the Web late last week—Bob Dylan’s new album (his first in 5 years) Modern Times will hit stores on August 29th. Information is scarce, but it’s a fair bet that it is not, in fact, a concept album based on Charlie Chaplin’s classic 1936 film of the same name. That would be neat though, wouldn’t it?

Rolling Stone has heard it and they say it “mixes elements of 2001’s Love and Theft’s blues variations (think ‘Cry A While’) and whimsical ballads (think ‘Floater’) with the darker, swampier vibe of the Daniel Lanois-produced classics Time Out of Mind and Oh Mercy. Only Dylan’s current touring band plays on the new one: ringing in our ears was the bone-chilling vamp ‘Ain’t Talkin’, which may be Dylan’s most powerful album-closing epic ever.”

That last comment is strong praise, since Dylan’s ouevre includes such phenomenal closers as “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” “Desolation Row,” and “Highlands.” But hey, Uncle Bob has been on a late-career roll with his last two albums and it’s likely he’s still got some surprises up his sleeve.

Tyler Wilcox | 10:59 am | Comments Off

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When I think of a typical summer song I picture stuff like Jagged Edge and Nelly’s “Where the Party At?” or Amerie’s “1 Thing.” Upbeat, energizing, immediately catchy, longstanding, and for lack of a better word, party songs. Maybe it’s because it’s been raining down here in Miami lately (putting a damper on that whole idea of “summer”) or because no matter how good things may appear to be it still always seems to be getting worse but if you ask me (and of course you do) TV on the Radio’s new single “I Was a Lover,” is this summer’s runaway song of the, um, summer.

“I Was a Lover” is not even close to being any of the things I mentioned above (besides longstanding). But it is what every great “protest” (gag me) song should be: biting, intelligent, indicting, and not too overtly political. Lyrically, it’s tough to make out more than half of the song without a lyric sheet, but Tunde Adebimpe is seething and searing- lofting not “Yeah, fuck Bush!”-esque insults at the administration, but the careful thoughts of someone who has actually digested these past three years. When he laments “But we’re sleepwalking through this time / And it’s really a crime, really a crime, really a crime” it burns like Napalm.

And on top of that, the band behind Adebimpe plays with a frightening amount of confidence. Sonically, the song is a beauty—all flourishing organs and lush piano intermingling with that traditional TVOTR fuzz. Throughout the track, flashes of the crescendo that happens around the four-minute mark are apparent, but the band never lets the song climax until that perfect moment. And when it happens, the static synth drowns out everything except the pulsating drums and Adebimpe’s soaring falsetto.

This song doesn’t have nearly the pop sensibilities (nor does it want it) of Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes “Staring at the Sun” but the line that “I Was a Lover” takes its name from is more than universal. That line is simply “I was a lover / Before this war.” I love it because we were all something before this war: hopeful, optimistic, employed. And now, like Adebimpe we (or at least I) are wary, hardened, disappointed, fragile, and scared.

So as the radio flounders in fluff like Chamillionaire and Rhianna and Daniel Powter, TV on the Radio have gone out and made the triumph of the summer. An anthem not about getting fucked up, but about how shit is fucked up. And that seems right to me.

Jordan Sargent | 7:42 am | Comments (3)

June 12, 2006

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We run at about half-speed at Stylus, but it’s been a big last couple weeks. This past Thursday, I finally figured out the difference between my bedpan and my messkit. On Friday I figured out what the purple button does in the Sabre Room (do not touch it, I’m serious). Today, we finally figured out how to post YouTube videos. Well, we figured it out at around 9 this morning, but the excitement made me pass out. So hey!

I’m going to try to post one per day. Here’s the first: Os Mutantes and Gilberto Gil performing “Domingo No Parque” at TV Records’ 2nd Annual Festival of Brazilian Popular Music in 1967. Mutantes had been around for barely a year, and this performance was their first exposure to most Brazilians. The use of electric guitar wasn’t exactly common at a “traditional” song contest and wasn’t received particularly warmly (as you can hear).

The Tropicalists actually had a fairly strong television presence, even earning their own show, Divine, Marvellous by 1968. Later that year the government passed the Institutional Act No. 5, which, among other things, severely limited public expression. On Christmas of that year, Caetano Veloso held a gun to his head on the show while singing a traditional song; the next morning, he was arrested.

If you’re still not sure about Tropicalia, I recommend reading The Guardian’s excellent piece from earlier this year, or mine (because I’m a self-serving jerk like that) on Soul Jazz’s Tropicalia compilation.

Mike Powell | 9:59 pm | Comments Off

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My problem with concerts in Japan is that I (having never dutifully studied the language) am only ever slightly aware of what’s going on. Not that I’d know what to expect from an Acid Mothers Temple show anyway. It’s easier to track sleeper cells in Toronto than the revolving-door roster of Japan’s most famous psych monsters. To paraphrase Mark E. Smith’s brutal self-branding, if it’s Kawabata Makoto and your granny on Bongos, it’s an AMT gig. Fine. Even an octagenarian on bongos kickin’ it alone with Kawabata would raise the biggest ruckus on the Pacific Rim.

I squeezed (squoze?) into the subterranean shoebox of the UFO House to find two gentlemen with acoustic guitars, lit melodramatically by ‘60s-style oil projections (apparently made with dishwashing soap and food colouring). The men onstage (including sometime-AMT member Tsuyama Atsushi) skipped dextrously between Fahey-style folk, Derek Bailey-esque skronk, and what sounded like Chicago blues by way of an ogre drinking song. More impressive than anything tugged from the guitars was Tsuyama’s singing voice. His voice swooped and tumbled between sparrow-throated warble and troglodytic grunting, back up into ox-lunged opera before crashing into a Yoko Ono-class freakout. It would’ve been showboating if it hadn’t provided a completely appropriate musical counterpoint to what was going on.

This set the tone for the evening’s exploratory self-indulgence. Minding that this was a warm-up date for AMT’s European tour, every act kept their set playfully mercurial without bulldozing any particular musical conventions. This isn’t to say the playing was slack. Chewing through genres with caffeinated agility, the performers exhibited a level of telepathy superior to even the ‘60s canon of jam-bands.

Case in point: when Kawabata joined Tsuyama onstage for their joke-folk duo Zoffy, they gleefully butchered “Smoke on the Water” for almost twenty minutes, twisting the riff like Silly Putty™. This certainly didn’t squeegee my Third Eye, but it was damned entertaining.

AMT’s set was similarly light in tone. Forgoing their shattering stoner-rock marathons, this female-fronted line-up (billed as AMT & the Incredible Strange Band) sounded more like a dark-matter mirror of Jefferson Airplane—acid blues shellacked in extra feedback. I know the ‘60s psychedelia simile sounds lazy, but it was unavoidable: the encore (featuring ex-Boredom Yamamoto Seiichi on guitar) was a roaring cover of “House of the Rising Sun.”

Of course, there’s only so much time Kawabata can spend onstage without smashing some eardrums. Between their Zoffy and AMT sets, Tsuyama and Kawabata were joined by a drummer for a full-throttle forty-five minutes as O-Jazz. Here was the volcanic squall, the speaker-cone-blowing solos, the Raw Power-worshipping guitar butcher from Nagoya that I know and love. And not a moment too soon. Hell, after two hours of waiting, I was wondering what the point of having four fuzzboxes onstage was if they weren’t going to use ‘em.

European Tour Dates
June 13 – Rostock, Germany – Stubnitz
June 14 – Berlin, Germany – Bastard Club
June 15 – Bern, Switzerland – Reitschule
June 17 – Paris, France – Cite de la Musique
June 18 – Castellon, Spain – Sala Ricoamor
June 19 – Madrid, Spain – Sala Siroco
June 20 – Lisbon, Portugal – Galeria Ze Dos Bois
June 22 – Wroclaw, Poland – Oda Firlej
June 23 – Bydgoszcz, Poland – Klub Mozg
June 24 – Lodz, Poland – Jazzga
June 28 – Zagreb, Croatia - TBA

Sebastian Roberts | 7:29 am | Comments Off

June 8, 2006

So June is here and that means it’s time to pick out your very own personal Summer Anthem. Didn’t you know? It’s that perfect song you’ll play over and over again. It’s that melody that stubbournly stays in your head during those long, hot-asphalt afternoons. It’s the tune that serves as an aural cool breeze on those hot august nights Neil Diamond has told us about.

So what’s it going to be for the summer of ‘06? Maybe Camera Obscura’s Lloyd Cole riposte, “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken”? Yo La Tengo’s bouncy “Beanbag Chair”? The Concretes‘ irresistibly buoyant “On the Radio”? Jolie Holland’s drowsy morning after love song “Crush In The Ghetto”? All are worthy contenders.

But for our money, you can’t beat the Bedroom Walls‘ bittersweet (emphasis on the “sweet”) “Kathy In Her Bedroom.” Hook is piled atop hook, choruses soar higher than the clouds, and reverb-laden guitars and celestial vocal harmonies chime merrily away. The song can be found on the LA-based band’s second album, All Good Dreamers Pass This Way (out now on Baria Records). And while “Kathy” is the song that leaps out at the listener, the LP as a whole is excellent as well. Singer/Songwriter/Mastermind Adam Goldman and co. have crafted a pristine pop classic that manages to be both warm and inviting while retaining a very singular (and often downright weird) vibe throughout. The band certainly knows its way around a shimmering, unabashedly poppy chord progression, but isn’t afraid to go off on hypnotic, spacey tangents—witness the long, trance-like outro on the album’s epic, “Then the Narrator Smiles.”

Stream album samples here.

Tyler Wilcox | 2:21 pm | Comments (2)

June 7, 2006

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The Flaming Lips’ new At War With the Mystics has, by and large, been panned by the critics as a failure. Oh, pay no mind to that score of 74 on review clearinghouse Metacritic — the mean is deceiving. Pitchfork says it “doesn’t measure up.” The band sounds “tired” – as confirmed by Rolling Stone and yours truly, while others sharpen their fangs more aggressively, deeming it “vague and bloated”, “the sound of a band run dry” and “wank riddled parody”. Even many of the more favorable reviews—and there are a few—hedge some, saying …Mystics “might even disappoint on first listen” and “falls short of being a masterpiece”.

So, what exactly is going on here? Is At War With the Mystics really as bad as all that? To be honest, I’m still warming up to it myself. Yet on the first few listens, there’s nothing about the record that indicates some colossal drop-off in quality.

Could it be that The Flaming Lips are getting their comeuppance? It’s no secret that this is a band coming off one of the most unlikely stretches in pop history – an affable psych-pop outfit signed to a major label in the wake of Nirvana’s success, who not only scored a novelty hit but also managed to peak with its ninth and tenth albums. And for all the critical and mass acceptance that came with #9 (The Soft Bulletin) and #10 (Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots), so, too, has there always been a snarky undercurrent to the press’s coverage of the band’s success – a reaction that the group, admittedly, had opened themselves up to with Wayne Coyne’s musings about insects, robots and shrieking Japanese girls as well as a stage act replete with giant bunnies, fake blood and fairydust. Consequently, for all the praise heaped on them these last several years, The Flaming Lips have always seemed to be one small crack in their toy armor away from being revealed as some kind of fraud.

And it appears that At War with the Mystics may be the crack they’ve been waiting for. To be sure, the record’s a mess – and depending on your perspective, either a glorious or disgraceful one. Where Yoshimi’s chief refinement of Bulletin’s wide-eyed orchestral wonder occurred in its replacement of multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd’s usually Bonham-esque sonic boom with a tighter, more programmed bottom, …Mystics returns Drozd to his kit with a vengeance, resulting in a huge, live sound that widens the sonic canvass considerably, before the group proceeds to fill it with piles upon piles of overdubs — of sirens, squeals, talk boxes, and what have you. That the record’s all over the map stylistically, veering from cosmically yearning balladry to N.E.R.D.-esque fuzz funk to psychedelic freak-out in the blink of an eye, only reinforces the sense of rudderless confusion. And that’s to say nothing of lyrics that trade in the pseudo-profound meditations on mortality that defined the previous records to take aim at 21st Century power — in particular, that uniquely American synthesis of politics and celebrity.

As a listening experience, it’s disorienting, even offputting. Might such audio-conceptual schizophrenia have occurred by design? Given the subject matter, possibly – after all, this is a band that once titled a song “Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World.” Regardless, it appears a lot of people aren’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt this time around.

If that is, indeed, the critical consensus, it seems to miss what made The Flaming Lips special in the first place. In recent years, I’ve been famously ridiculed around Stylus parts for writing off most new pop music not only as tame, but more importantly for lacking in the tension and energy created when the listener experiences something honest-to-God original and unique. It’s hard to imagine such energy given the “safe room” dynamics shaping the pop music industry today – from Nick Drake-ian sotto voce vocals that lack emotional range, to “edgy” productions so finely balanced as to suck all the life out of them, to melodies that seek to comfort or mark time instead of surprise.

In part because of such dynamics, I’ve become increasingly convinced that the most interesting and forward-looking new music is often driven not by the combination of any particular influence but rather by the artists’ motivations — in particular, their willingness to not merely fail but embarrass themselves outright. No, I’m not talking about Scissor Sisters-brand outrageousness (a time-honored commodity in pop since Little Richard), but rather artists who put special emphasis on not only getting the listener’s attention and trust, but then push the bounds of acceptibility from within that relationaship to the point that they might lose the listener entirely — or worse, face outright hostility and ridicule. It’s a big risk to be sure — but when it works, the listener will be engaing with ideas and sounds that he or she previously never would have considered much less enjoyed.

With Coyne straining his voice to yelp about magic wands, the meaning of death and a hundred other subjects any person seeking credibility wouldn’t go near—with a palette of production devices that Cecil B. DeMille would have admired as much as Genesis or Tomita even—The Flaming Lips have always challenged the assumption that risk had gone out of pop. Whether or not the Lips calibrated such risks appropriately with At War With the Mystics is beside the point; unlike so many other pop bands today, this is one that’s clearly still trying. And given their track record, maybe we should, too.

Matthew Weiner | 8:41 pm | Comments (6)

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Game 7 at US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona. A vexed Kobe Bryant shoots Raja Bell at the foul-shot line for Bell’s throat-check move in Game 5. Nah, that isn’t right, cats in the NBA endorse sneakers like rappers and Shaq tries to rap, but declaring war on the Suns for erasing Los Angeles’ NBA Final hopes is lame. Cam’Ron plays basketball, but he prefers cultivating record sales with catchy Dipset anthems that leak on the Internet during Killa Season.

Rap business is one-part mixtape, three-parts XXL and infinite shots of murder raps that generate a Y&R-type following unlike any other genre of music; love it.

Publicity Pushes Records

Beanie Sigel says, “Lay down or stay down,” as Beans in State Property, but Beanie was the cat laying down one Thursday morning in May after a bullet wound to his shoulder. The car follows Beanie’s whip. Beanie is aware of that car is marking him for a shark-move. Beanie pulls over his Impala to the curb. Beanie tracks the suspect ride through South Philadelphia. Two men with handguns stop their ride, exit the ride and walk towards Beanie’s Impala. Beanie steps out of his Impala and says, “Know who I am?” MmmmmmKay, at this point a second car arrives and two more men with handguns rush Beanie. Beanie is vicked for approximately $75,000 in jewelry and $3,000 in cash.

Hipster cats on the East Coast will support the side-ways towel, because Beanie says, “I’m shot. I’ve got shot. I’m cool.” Beanie’s post-prison life is stressful. Half his State Property camp is divided in the wake of Jay-Z and Dame Dash’s business fallout and Beanie chose no side, which leaves a cat venerable in a rap game that glorifies rags-to-riches-to-tragedy. “Why Wouldn’t I” is Beanie’s answer to a flesh-wound. OK, cop one Y&R piano sample, one Rocky-type drum pattern and one “Top Billin’” homage for a quick audio response to a shooting that is later leaked on the Internet. Damn, looks like Beanie revived Edward Bernays to do his publicity, but when a cat releases angst from a prison bid and shooting incident (on a rap single), it can be assumed a post-summer release is in the works.

Rap beefs aren’t new, but when cats like Cam’Ron market their Dipset CDs off Jay-Z’s name it’s assumed that today’s youth are at-risk to imitate rappers de jour. To follow up last year’s Summer Jam, Cam’Ron’s camp is already generating rumors of illegitimate children from HOVA’s seed. In October, 2005, Cam was shot in both of his arms for his Lambroghini. The “Get Em Daddy (Remix)” was released (The Title Stays in Harlem, mixtape) shorty after Cam’s shooting and implies that a post-I-Declare-War concert left that Dipset bird-gang unsatisfied. Round that quasi-beef track with a direct murder rap track taking aim at Jay-Z and Julez Santana’s, What The Game’s Been Missing is set to sell like water in a desert. “You Got To Love It” is beautiful. Call Jay-Z an old man in sandals, call him “Fraggle Rock” ugly and bring up Beyonce singing about crack, yup that is how to sell a rap record. It’s no surprise that Jay-Z will does not respond to Cam. If Jay-Z made a battle rap towards Cam than Dipset record sales would explode like ammonium nitrate in a U-Haul truck. Rick Ross’ “Hustlin (Remix)” with Young Jeezy and Jay-Z is a summer rap anthem that is tailored for a trill-meets-Uptown audience, but the kicker is that Jay-Z subconsciously makes Cam look bitch-made through intelligent raps. Then Cam releases the “It’s Going Down (Remix)” that directly calls out Jay-Z in a manner that accuses Jay-Z of selling out for making a song with Young Jeezy and not a rapper from Brooklyn.

At this point rappers have taken over the Internet with rap singles that kids digest like cough syrup in a post-Sizzurp rap world. If crisis communications meant anything to post-shot-rappers than PR practitioners would not be stale like day-old doughnuts.

Beanie Sigel -Why Wouldn’t I

Cam’Ron w/ Hell Rell, J.R. Writer and Jim Jones -Get Em Daddy (Remix)

Cam’Ron -It’s Going Down (Remix)

Rick Ross w/ Young Jeezy and Jay-Z -Hustlin’

Jordan Chalifoux | 1:26 pm | Comments (1)

June 6, 2006

The long running and much beloved NY band Luna may have called it quits early last year, but there’s a barrage of archival releases hitting stores in the near future. First up, there’s the obligatory “greatest hits” collection, which has been given the not-very-exciting title, The Best of Luna. Is there any collector-bait on this CD? Nope—the tracklisting sticks to previously released material. Nice cover art, though. In tandem with The Best of Luna, however, will be the online, mp3 only Lunafied, which will reportedly consist of rarities, b-sides, cover versions, and other ephemera. Why mp3 only? The band’s founder Dean Wareham says that they initially approached Rhino with the concept of a double disc set—one disc collecting the “best of” and the other collecting the rarities. “But they sent it upstairs to the people who analyze how they’re going to make money,” he drolly told the New York Times’ Biz section. And voilaLunafied will only be available online. Bummer. Finally, Matthew Buzzell’s warts and all documentary on Luna’s bittersweet final tour, Tell Me Do You Miss Me, will come to DVD (via Rhino Films) on June 20. Check out the trailer here.

Tyler Wilcox | 11:02 am | Comments (1)

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Unless you actually pay attention to MTV or any of its various offspring you probably have no idea that the MTV Movie Awards even exists. Or that it’s this coming Thursday. Or that Gnarls Barkley is performing (or AFI or Christina Aguilera).

Anyone who actually watches this meaningless “awards” show definitely needs to get out a little more, and now with YouTube and TiVo etc., periodically flipping to the show to try to catch the Gnarls performance won’t be necessary. Anyway, that’s beside the point. The real question here is if this Gnarls performance will actually matter.

Ever since “Crazy” reached the top of the UK singles charts, Gnarls was destined to be the recipient of the 2006 Indie’s New Big Hope Award (with a generous thanks to previous winners Sufjan Stevens, Franz Ferdinand etc.). “Crazy” is obviously this year’s “Float On”/“Take Me Out” except that Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse have the eccentricity and (just enough) charisma to maybe turn their act into something that people care about for more than 2 ˝ weeks.

Occasionally MTV will let an indie act play on one of their award shows. Too bad they tend to mess it up each time out.  A few years back The Hives and The Vines put on an absolute horrid Battle of the Bands type of thing and in 2004 Yeah Yeah Yeahs did “Maps.” That performance did nothing in the way of making YYYs important in an MTV way, it was all freak-out Karen O and a stage set-up that was Teletubbies-esque (read: WTF?).

So I don’t expect anyone to pay attention or to care about the “Crazy” performance beyond 12 year-old girls asking themselves why a huge black guy is dressed like the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Which isn’t to say that the performance won’t be fucking great. On Top of the Pops earlier this year Gnarls and a 20+ ensemble dressed as pilots/other airplane personnel—an absolute “call your friends immediately after to discuss” kind of performance.

So my prediction is Gnarls will do their thing in grand fashion. Maybe VH1’s Best Week Ever will give it a little air time. Maybe they’ll snag an SNL gig. But just like all the other “indie” acts to play an MTV awards show, they’ll probably fall by the wayside and the few of us who think that it would be cool for a true indie act to actually make it big in the US will have to wait for Arctic Monkeys to (finally) catch on.

Jordan Sargent | 9:23 am | Comments (3)

June 5, 2006

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Having spent the past year conspicuously off the radar, former Dismemberment Plan mouthpiece Travis Morrison is stepping back onstage for a small string of shows at the end of June, ostensibly because his sophomore solo effort (working title: All Y’all) is due in the near future. But the meager five-date “tour” is telling of how tentative Morrison must be to confront his audience again. Since Travistan (Barsuk, 2004) landed with all the grace and good press of the Hindenburg, Morrison’s next appearance on store shelves will either be his redemption or where he’s left for dead.

In retrospect, Travistan was destined to be damned. As the two years subsequent to its release have shown, post-millenial indie kids like their rock emotionally earnest, or ersatz and escapist. Despite their many declarations that they really did “mean it,” the Dismemberment Plan peddled a more obtuse sincerity, their confessionals cloaked in metaphor and dry wit. The only variables Morrison added to the equation on his own were more synthesizers and genre-swatch samples. Who would fairly begrudge the sonic tinkering of an artist suddenly free of his four-piece post-hardcore format?

Evidently, a great many begrudged Morrison rather bitterly. Sure, Travistan was uneven and stylistically schizoid, but it was no train-wreck either. The biting social analysis and serpertine melodies so beloved by Plan fans were kept intact. Perhaps that Morrison neither sings like David Byrne nor is from Montreal was enough to earn the plaudits of indie tastemakers.

What’s curious, though, is that the thing most reprehensible about Morrison has gone uncontested: his politics. No mention has been made of Morrison’s staunch initial support for the invasion of Iraq, nor his past praise for the president, not even his measured contempt for the American left. The underground has been quick to distance itself from Spank Rock’s alleged misogyny, or to declare M.I.A.’s no-punch-pulled politics hyperbolic. So why hasn’t Morrison been haunted by his assessment of Bush as “a smart guy” and “a reborn Wilsonite leader-of-world-liberalism?”

Then again, maybe it’s some small blessing that Morrison hasn’t been challenged on his political opinions. He’s got a greater chance of resuscitating a career as a college-rock star than in establishing a sustained peace in the Middle East.

Tour dates:
June 22 – Baltimore, MD – Fletcher’s
June 23 – Richmond, VA – Nanci Raygun
June 24 – Washington, DC – The Black Cat
June 25 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
June 26 – Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live

Sebastian Roberts | 11:46 am | Comments (1)

Work can wait, can’t it?

The Perfumed Garden is posting a whole mess of classic Peel Sessions, including the Breeders (1990), the Fall (2006), the late Ivor Cutler (1979) and many, many more.

Said The Gramophone has a track from the as-yet-unsigned Hookers Green No. 1 and a track from Ola Podrido, who you may have heard on the soundtracks to David Gordon Green’s flicks.

Locust St. continues its march through time with an extremely wide ranging and tasteful set of mp3s from the year 1956, including songs from Miles Davis, Buddy Holly, Tony Bennett, and a speech excerpt from Dwight D. Eisenhower. History class was never this fun.

Chromewaves has a mp3 and YouTube-heavy post highlighting Ride. Also check out the site’s weekly cover tune, a version of Elvis Costello’s “Beyond Belief” by Nashville collective Lambchop.

Tyler Wilcox | 11:20 am | Comments Off

June 1, 2006

Stylus writers Josh Timmermann and Teresa Nieman have teamed up to create their very own podcast, featuring some of their favorite songs. Check it out here.

Todd Burns | 8:34 pm | Comments Off

Harp Magazine got Television founder Tom Verlaine and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore together and published the predictably wacky results. Not that this was the first meeting between these two art rock legends—apparently they’re old pals. They even have a band, albeit one that’s never left Thurston’s basement in western Massachussetts. I bet the neighbors just love having Sonic Youth living next door.

Verlaine, of course, just released two new records on Thrill Jockey, thereby doubling his recorded output for this century (the guy is not exactly prolific), and Thurston and Sonic Youth, meanwhile, are gearing up for a busy summer , with Rather Ripped hitting stores in a few weeks and subsequent dates with the Flaming Lips, Pearl Jam as well as all by their lonesome.

Tyler Wilcox | 1:11 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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